South Mississippi Ballet Theatre, a pre-professional ballet training academy located in Hattiesburg, will be celebrating its 10th anniversary performance of The Nutcracker. The professional production will take place at 7 p.m. December 7 and 2 p.m. December 8 at the Brownstone Performing Arts Center on the campus of Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, as well as 7 p.m. December 13, 2 and 7 p.m. December 14, and 2:30 p.m. December 15 at Mannoni Performing Arts Center on the Campus of The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
Dancers from ages 4 through adult will take the stage beside professional dancers from Russia and Ukraine. With incredible costumes, hand-painted backdrops, and new surprises at every turn, The Nutcracker is a performance that will delight both adults and children.
"We are celebrating being in the Hattiesburg community for 10 years this year, and really tried to make these performances the best we have ever presented,” said Artistic Director Arkadiy Orohovsky. “The dancers in our school are impeccably trained and dance like young professionals. It is remarkable to see the talent that these dancers possess."
This year's cast has dancers from Hattiesburg, Columbia, Picayune, Lucedale, and Lumberton, who make the trek to Hattiesburg multiple times each week for rehearsals.
Summer Smith, whose daughter Cooper Smith will play one of two Claras this year (along with Abigail Dorgan) says that driving from Columbia daily is worth every second.
"My daughter wants to one day be a professional dancer, and I want to give her the best possible training and performance experience that I can,” she said. “She trains six days per week and has a very special bond with her teachers at SMBT. She is beyond thrilled to be able to dance the role of Clara in SMBT's 10th anniversary performances."
The Nutcracker story centers on a young girl named Clara who receives a Nutcracker doll from her magical Godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer. As the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Eve, her Nutcracker doll grows to be life size. An epic battle takes place between the Nutcracker and his soldiers against the Rat Queen and her army of mice.
Clara helps to defeat the Mouse Queen and discovers that her Nutcracker is actually a prince that had been enchanted to take the form of a Nutcracker. The Nutcracker Prince escorts Clara through the Land of Snow to his homeland, the Land of Sweets.
The Sugarplum Fairy greets Clara and her prince and welcomes them to her kingdom. All of the sweets proceed to dance for her, Chocolate from Spain, Coffee from Arabia, Tea from China, Marzipan from Denmark, and Candy Canes from Russia.
Mother Ginger with her Gingersnaps, and the Dewdrop Fairy and her garden of crystal flowers continue to enchant Clara until the Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier dance for her.
At the end of the celebrations, her Godfather Drosselmeyer appears and Clara awakens Christmas morning holding her beloved Nutcracker.
The Nutcracker has become a Christmas tradition in the United States. It is a family-friendly show that is a favorite of people well versed in ballet as well as with people who have never been to a ballet before.
"Ballet is not boring, or old fashioned like many think,” said Orohovsky. “Dancers have to be able to tell a story using no words, with only their bodies to express their emotions. Combined with some of the most beautiful music ever written, as well as with constant movement and color, you cannot help but be transported into the world the Clara inhabits",
This year there will be a special event taking place at the Hattiesburg performance, Meet and Greet at the Land of Sweets. From 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Friday, December 13, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Saturday, December 14 and 1-2 p.m. Sunday, December 15, those patrons that purchase VIP Tickets will experience a chance to meet the characters from the ballet, take photos with them, and enjoy holiday favorites like a hot chocolate bar and different treats.
This VIP event will take place in the main lobby of Mannoni Performing Arts Center and is limited to only 50 tickets per performance. VIP Tickets are centered in the orchestra section of the theatre.
Tickets for the Hattiesburg performances may be purchased online at www.southernmisstickets.com or by calling (800) 844-TICK. Tickets for the Poplarville performances may be purchased online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com. For more information about South Mississippi Ballet Theatre, visit their website at http://www.southmissballlet.org or call (601) 466-6233.