Lauded ballet production includes DeKalb children

Among time-honored holiday traditions The Nutcracker is beloved by music lovers of all ages. The 133-year-old two-act ballet by Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky comes to life this season in a reimagined version of the classic at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Dec. 8 through 26. One of the few regional performances to include a live orchestra, the Atlanta Ballet production includes the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, which will perform the traditional Tchaikovsky score, “bringing the beautiful and intricate dance work to life,” according to the dance company.

Under the artistic direction of Gennadi Nedvigin, Atlanta Ballet will present what it calls “one of the most anticipated performances in its repertoire.” Award-winning choreographer Yuri Possokhov reinvented the classical ballet in 2018 exclusively for Atlanta Ballet with intricately designed costumes, larger-than-life ornate painted sets, advanced lighting, and state-of-the-art video projections, according to Atlanta Ballet.

Founded in 1929, Atlanta Ballet has a national reputation and is the official state Ballet of Georgia. “Atlanta Ballet’s eclectic repertoire spans ballet history, highlighted by beloved classics and inventive originals. After 94 seasons, Atlanta Ballet continues its commitment to share and educate audiences on the empowering joy of dance,” according to the Atlanta Ballet website, which notes that “in 1996, Atlanta Ballet opened the Centre for Dance Education, which is dedicated to nurturing young dancers while providing an outlet for adults to express their creativity.”

The Nutcracker story is set on Christmas Eve beneath a Christmas tree, where a child imagines dancing toys and other fantasies. The Atlanta Ballet production, which a Washington Post critic said “tops them all as the most entertaining as well as the smartest,” includes many child performers, including three from DeKalb County.

Olivia Ramsey, who attends Oak Grove Elementary School in the Northlake area, will perform as a “party child.” In addition to ballet, Olivia is involved in Girl Scouts, tennis, and swimming. Winnona Park Elementary pupil Eliza Britton, who belongs to the Cub Scouts, will perform as a “chick,” and Frances Jay will perform as either a “mouse” or “soldier.” She attends Oak Grove Elementary School and is involved in gymnastics, acting and cheerleading.

Frances Jay, a pupil at Oak Grove Elementary School, front row left, will perform as either a “mouse” or a “soldier” in the classic Christmas balllet. Photos provided

Atlanta Ballet states that its production of The Nutcracker “has been hailed as one of the most technically advanced versions of the show and promises to transport audiences to a charming yuletide German city for its whimsical story involving an unexpected gift, a mysterious journey and two acts of enchantment. Snowstorms, dancing dolls, bullfights, snake charmers and much more bring this panoramic adventure to the stage.”

The Atlanta Ballet promises to turn the production into “a festive experience beyond the show, transforming the space into a winter wonderland and decorating the lobby with Christmas trees, snowflakes, and specialty stations for holiday photo opportunities. Guests are invited to enjoy holiday shopping from the Atlanta Ballet Boutique plus seasonal sweet treats, hot cocoa, apple cider and holiday cocktails for adults. There will also be a pre-show DJ to ring in the merriment.” A billboard that has been on Atlanta’s Peachtree Street since Oct. 20 showcases “the grandeur of the Atlanta Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, including a 10-foot-tall molded ballerina and the oversized clock that features prominently in the story,” according to Atlanta Ballet.

“As a company, we go above and beyond to create a memorable experience to surprise and delight our audiences,” Nedvigin said in an announcement of the production.

“We are proud to provide a holiday season must-see with our fresh take on this beloved ballet featuring the Atlanta Ballet company, Atlanta Ballet 2 and a cast of children from the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education and Centre Community Engagement Programs.”

“Each year, we strive to elevate our Nutcracker experience and make it enjoyable for all ages, and this extends to our festive pre-show and community activations,” said Tom West, Atlanta Ballet’s executive director. “We trust that through the shared experience of this beloved holiday ballet tradition, we can bring the Atlanta community together in awe and appreciation for the arts.”

For tickets and additional information, visit www.atlantaballet.com/nutcracker.

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