HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Wallace State Community College’s Allegro Dance Theatre, Cullman Community Theatre and Ballet South will present “The Nutcracker” with more than 60 dancers at the Betty Leeth Haynes Theatre on the campus of Wallace State Nov. 18-20. Performances will be at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Ballet South Founder and Artistic Director Brooke Desnoes, who also instructs the Allegro Dance Theatre, choreographed the production. Desnoes was born in Cullman and lived and taught in Paris, France, for many years, founding the Academie Americaine de Danse de Paris before returning to her hometown.
She has choreographed “The Nutcracker” many times in her career and even has an authentic German Nutcracker in the show. She shared some of the history of the star prop.
“When I lived in Europe, we always spent our winter vacation in Austria in a little Tyrolian village named Berwang. Berwang being quite small we sometimes liked to drive to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a German town famous for its challenging World Cup ski run and also for its very authentic Nutcracker shop. The shop was out of a movie, a real treat for our children who were very young at the time. Of course, we
could not leave the shop without a real German Nutcracker,” she said. “This Nutcracker has been on stage many times in Paris and when we moved to Cullman, he was packed in my younger daughter Sidonie’s suitcase. There was no way we could have left him behind. Our Nutcracker was born for the stage and despite a fall during one of our last rehearsals, thanks to Jeff from Mary Carter, he still has a long dancing career in front of him.”
This production has been staged at Wallace for the last three years. Desnoes spoke about the benefits of having actors from the Cullman Community Theatre joining the team.
“We are very grateful to be teaming up with Cullman Community Theatre this year, and our collaboration has given me an opportunity to elaborate on the opening scene which is mostly mimed,” she said. “Some of our performers in the party scene had actually never danced before, but actors offer a great presence on stage and bring a silent movie quality to this particular scene. Actors and dancers have more in common than we imagine. Moving gracefully and meaningfully on stage is a craft and a form of dance too.”
The elaborate production is achieved with the help of many others. There will be new special effects and costumes this year. Many of the costumes are professionally made by a costume company in Moldavia Desnoes has used for two decades.
Wes Clabo is in charge of light and sound. Desnoes said, “He is a seasoned technician, and it is great to work with someone who understands what you need before you even have to ask. I always teach my dancers to appreciate the work of the technicians. No matter how good a dancer he or she is, if the lighting is wrong, all prowess on stage is wasted.”
Desnoes is excited for another chance to choreograph the classic ballet, saying, “Tchaikovsky’s music is a real treat for the dancers, who feel energized by the timeless brilliance offered by the score. I have been staging ‘The Nutcracker’ every Christmas season for many years, and every time the performance is a novelty to all of us. Every year we all get into ‘The Nutcracker’ rehearsals with a different spirit, and the dancers always offer something different and renewed. ‘The Nutcracker’ is a true celebration of the imagination. It is a great tradition, and the dancers always feel happy performing it.”
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger and can be purchased in advance at www.balletsouth.booktix.com or at the door.
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