Cullman Ballet Theatre School presents ‘The Nutcracker’ Dec. 17-18


CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman Ballet Theatre School will present “The Nutcracker” Saturday, Dec. 17, at 6 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 18, at 2:30 p.m. at Wallace State Community College’s Betty Leeth Haynes Theatre.  

The holiday classic was originally performed 130 years ago, choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov and scored by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It was adapted from an 1816 short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffman. 

Elaine Willingham founded Cullman Ballet Theatre School 49 years ago after a storied ballet career of her own. Willingham’s choreography will include nuances of her own flair. 

The story of “The Nutcracker” follows the events of an enchanted Christmas Eve night when a young German girl befriends a wooden nutcracker, a gift from her godfather, who is also a magician. As everyone is tucked into bed, Clara makes her way back to the parlor to see her new nutcracker who springs to life as the clock strikes midnight. A battle is waged between the Mouse King and his army of mice and the gingerbread soldiers along with toys who have sprung to life. The end of the first act sees the nutcracker transforming into a handsome young prince. 

The second act opens with Clara and the prince returning to his Land of Sweets, which has been governed by the Sugar Plum Fairy in the prince’s absence. Clara is showered with gifts from around the world for her pivotal role in saving the prince. A celebration ensues while the beloved and memorable waltzes are danced. 

Willingham began her dance career at the age of 11 in Cullman before training at the Birmingham Civic Ballet Company and Alabama Ballet Company only three years later. Performing leads in renowned classics such as “The Nutcracker,” “Swan Lake,” “Romeo and Juliet” and many more, Willingham continued her studies in New York City with a full scholarship for three years. From there her ballet career led her to dance and teach all over the world. In 1973, Willingham opened Cullman Ballet Theatre School and Cullman Ballet Company in 1995. 

Her students have continued their dance journeys with the Alabama Ballet, Oklahoma Ballet, HARID Conservatory, on Broadway and have performed with the New York Theatre Ballet touring company and Montgomery Ballet.  

Tickets for this weekend’s performances are available for $15 at Balcony seat tickets will be available at the door for $20 (cash only). No other tickets will be available for purchase at the door. 

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