A holiday performance of The Nutcracker has been a tradition for the Connecticut Concert Ballet just about since it opened its doors 37 years ago.
Almost every year since, local communities have been treated to the venerable story of a Christmas toy brought to life thanks to the love of a child while watching many of their sons and daughters, friends and neighbors dance lead roles.
This year’s production features more than 300 local dancers from the school, ranging in age from three to mid-50s, alongside professional dancers Mario I. Espinoza and Kimberly Van Woesik from Ballet Hispanico of New York City on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11, and Jennifer Grapes and Darren McIntyre from Chicago, Illinois and most recently with the Milwaukee Ballet on Dec. 17 and Dec. 18, who will dance the roles of the Nutcracker and the Sugar Plum Fairy.
“As an audience member, you are going to see professional dancing, classical ballet,” said Wendy Fish-Lawrence, who serves as co-artistic director of the Connecticut Concert Ballet alongside her husband David. “All our dancers are trained here at the school using the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, so they’re going to see real classical choreography and what you’d see if you went to New York or any big city.”
But the annual performance of the holiday classic isn’t just a custom for the ballet company; it’s also the Connecticut Concert Ballet’s largest sources of funds each year. Funds that allow it to keep tuition costs low and provide a number of scholarships to area students, which provide affordable arts education and entertainment to the local community.
“We’re a non-profit organization. We cannot sustain and stay open based only on our tuition,” Fish-Lawrence said. “We keep our tuition very low, we offer a lot of scholarships, so the profits from ‘The Nutcracker’ actually support us and keep us open – pay our teachers, pay our electricity, all of that, and really make our school possible.”
Performances will be held at the Bailey Auditorium at Manchester High School, 134 Middle Turnpike East, at the following dates and times:
- Sunday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m.
- Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
- Sunday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m.
Ticket Information: Preferred Front & Center Seats $35; General Admission, Adult $25, Child/Student/Senior $15. Tickets are available online at www.connecticutnutcracker.com and by phone (860) 418-7294, also at Dance Village, 171 Spencer St., Manchester, and Hairdresser on Fire, 176 Broad St., Windsor.