Ballet Nebraska Returns with “The Nutcracker”
November 30th, 2017
Ballet Nebraska Rehearses
Omaha, NE—At Motion 41 studio, where Ballet Nebraska dancers rehearse almost every day, Artistic Director Erika Overturff and Company Coaches Judith Leppeck and Angela Rodriguez have been pouring over routines, making sure every move is synced.
For the last two months, dancers with Ballet Nebraska have been rehearsing their annual production of a holiday favorite—The Nutcracker. The Nutcracker is synonymous with the season, moved each year by Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable melodies, and Alexandre Dumas’ wondrous story based on the original by German writer, E.T.A. Hoffman.
The Nutcracker is by far Ballet Nebraska’s biggest performance, with 25 company dancers and over 100 community cast members.
For many fans of ballet, The Nutcracker is the first experience with the art. Many children get to see the show through their schools, and it’s a welcome performance for dancers Company Artist Kelsey Schwenker explained.
“During our tech week, the first week of December, we have school groups come in and see our performances, and some of my favorite memories as a student doing those performances and as a professional are having massive groups of kids watch our show,” Schwenker said. “It’s actually one of our first opportunities to have an audience. There’s something so real about children’s reactions and how they see dance and what they feel about dance. Last year we did our flower scene, and they started clapping along in the middle, and that’s like a six minute piece and they kept it going the whole time. And in the last pose I could see kids standing on their feet in the balcony and clapping above their heads, so there’s just something so honest about how they view art, and it’s really touching for us to have that energy when we’re on stage.”
Given its importance in ballet world, The Nutcracker something like a rite of passage for dancers, too said Company Artist Erin Alarcón.
“My first Nutcracker performance was when I was twelve, which was about twenty years ago,” Alarcón said. “I love The Nutcracker because it’s something that you grow up with. You start as a little party girl or a baby mouse, and then you get to maybe be an angel one year and then you grow up a little bit more and you get to be in the Sugarplum Court, maybe a little cake, and then you look at all the older dancers and hopefully when you’re a professional you get to be some of those big roles that you dream of being, which I think is really really nice for kids to see the professionals and get to look up to them and see that you can do that one day.”
Ballet Nebraska performs The Nutcracker every year, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same show each time. Overturff is always updating, nuancing the choreography.
“It’s a huge production done every year, but it always evolves a little bit you know we have new ideas something new to try to keep it interesting for us and then there’s always something fun for the audience to see as well,” Overturff said. “For this year, I decided to choreograph a new ‘Russian Dance’ in Act Two—the Russian ‘Trepak’ music and variation features two of our company men as well as three women, so it’s a really high energy piece.”
Ballet Nebraska will perform The Nutcracker at the Orpheum Theatre twice this Saturday, Dec. 2nd at 2:00pm and 7:00pm and Sunday the 3rd at 2:00pm. For more information or tickets, visit BalletNebraska.org.