Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: The Nutcracker Ballet

One holiday tradition for our family is to see a production of the Nutcracker ballet. Throughout the Adirondacks and beyond, this is a tradition that many hold dear to their hearts as a family-friendly way to kick off the holiday season. With productions in Old Forge, Plattsburgh, Lake Placid and Glens Falls, this ballet gathers professional and community dancers on stage for a limited performance.

“Seeing a performance of the Nutcracker is part of the theatre tradition that is wholesome and something the whole family can see,” says Old Forge Ballet Company Director Sue Ann Lorenz-Wallace.” If children are performing in the production, it is something that will stay with them the rest of their lives. If they watch it, it will always bring back fond memories of the holidays.”

For the ninth year the Old Forge Ballet Company will bring its traditional version of the Nutcracker to the Strand Theatre in Old Forge. According to Lorenz-Wallace there will be two performances held on December 1: a 2:00 pm narrated production and 7 pm traditional performance.

According to North Country Ballet Ensemble Board President Deb Reyore the North Country Ballet Ensemble (NCBE) has been performing the Nutcracker in Plattsburgh for 27 years and collaborating with the Lake Placid Center for the Arts for the past four.

“The parents from Lake Placid and Plattsburgh come together to help transport costumes and props between the two locations,” says Reyore. “This year people can look forward to some changes. I’d like to thank Kent Streed from Pendragon Theatre for helping to redesign and execute the new Mother Ginger costume and Matt Sorensen of the Lake Placid Center for the Arts for creating the new Christmas tree. People are going to be wowed.”

The Plattsburgh performances of the Nutcracker took place over Thanksgiving weekend, but there is still time to see the same production in Lake Placid on December 1st at 7:30 pm and December 2nd at 1:00 pm.

The Lake Placid School for Ballet and North Country Ballet Ensemble work with the NYC based Rebecca Kelly Ballet. This year Rebecca Kelly Ballet’s Therese Miyoshi Wendler will return as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

“Ninety-nine percent of our dancers are kindergarteners and up. We also have professionals come from NYC. It gives the children the chance to perform with a professional. It is inspiring to the students and audience to watch them dance. This is tradition. We have families come back year after year,” says Reyore.

The magical Nutcracker ballet commonly seen before Christmas is a much lighter fare than the dark original adult tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffman. Hoffman’s version was published in 1816, but Alexandre Dumas is credited with rewriting the story to appeal to a younger audience. It was this more lighthearted version that captured the imagination of the Russian Imperial Ballet who commissioned Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky to provide the now famous Nutcracker score. The Nutcracker was first performed on stage in 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Though other versions have been choreographed, George Balanchine created the most popular version for the New York City Ballet in 1954.

If you don’t have a chance to see these performances the Adirondack Ballet Theatre present The Nutcracker on December 8 at 2:30 pm and December 9 at 2:30 pm at the Charles R. Wood Theatre in Glens Falls. Enjoy!

Photo: The Nutcracker (courtesy Todd Bissonette Photography).

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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

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