By Nicole Macon
BalletNova’s twist on a traditional Christmastime ballet has added additional guests to its party scene this year, as the production’s 10th annual performance of “The Nutcracker” will feature special local guests onstage who will observe firsthand the production’s unique first act.
The company will present “The Nutcracker” at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theater at 3501 2nd Street South in Arlington this Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
This year’s ballet will include special invited guests who will attend the party scene, a part of the first act that establishes this version of “The Nutcracker” not in Western Europe in the 1800s as in the original, but in D.C. in the late 1940s. The company’s guests will mingle with the characters of “The Nutcracker” and other guests created just for the elegant holiday party that introduces the audience to the story.
The audience will meet Clara and her brother Fritz, their parents Senator and Mrs. Stahlbaker, and the magical Ambassador Drosselmayer, who is also Clara’s godfather. Through the party, the audience learns about a prince who was cursed by the Mouse King and turned into a wooden Nutcracker. The only way for the curse to be broken is with the help of a courageous young girl with a pure heart. The second act takes Clara to the Kingdom of Sweets, where she meets the Sugar Plum Fairy and takes part in the kingdom’s celebrations.
Susan Kearney, chairmen of the Falls Church School Board is slated to appear at the December 7 performance at 1 p.m. She is looking forward to observing the Christmas Eve party firsthand and learning more about one of Falls Church’s local businesses.
“It sounds like a really fun way to get to know the business,” Kearney said. “Our businesses do so many things for our schools.”
Other scheduled guests include Andrea Roane, morning anchor at WUSA 9, Jim Corcoran, president and CEO of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, and Janet Kopenhaver, co-chair of the Arlington Commission on the Arts.
BalletNova began performing abbreviated versions of the play as early as 1999. When BalletNova’s current Executive Director Caroline Frankil Warren joined the faculty ten years ago, she collaborated with Artistic Director Nancie Woods to create a full-length version of the play, which debuted in 2004. The initial two performances have expanded to six, with a shortened Nutcracker Petites version at BalletNova’s Falls Church studio for preschool children.
While considered a holiday tradition, “The Nutcracker” is also the first experience many children have with ballet that inspires some to begin studying this style of dance, according to Kaila Miller, program coordinator at BalletNova.
“With its themes of family, courage, the magic of the holidays, and the familiar Tchaikovsky score, the Nutcracker has the ability to transcend classes, cultural ethnicities, and any inherent prejudice towards classical art,” Miller said.
Established in 1981 as the Arlington Center for Dance and the Center Dance Company by Ken and Kathy Fredgren, BalletNova trains over 650 students in its Falls Church studio in classical ballet. The studio trains students as young as three years old, to adult dancers over seventy years old. The studio also offers classes beyond ballet, including modern dance, jazz, tap, and hip hop for youth dancers, and classes for adults in Pilates, stretch, yoga, and floor barre.
Tickets for the performance, which range from $15 to $35, can be purchased online at BalletNova.org or at the company’s studio at 3443 Carlin Springs Road in Falls Church.