Local dancers prepare for "Nutcracker"

Published December 12, 2004

Nerves are left backstage when the music starts and the lights come up. Hearts are beating fast as the dancers take the stage. Music and dancing weave into a spectacular pattern brought to life by local dancers from the Academy of Ballet & Dance Arts in Lake Jackson.

Festival Ballet’s annual showing of “The Nutcracker” ballet has the academy and many of its students dancing at full force. They will perform the classic ballet on Saturday and Sunday at the Alvin Community College Theater.

The Nutcracker story centers on Christmas. A young girl named Clara receives a wooden nutcracker from her uncle. Her brother, Fritz, quickly breaks it but the uncle binds the broken nutcracker with a handkerchief. Clara soon falls asleep under the tree clutching her nutcracker. She enters a dream world of rat kings, snowflakes and the Sugar Plum Fairy’s “Land of the Sweets.”

Dancing the part of Clara for this performance is Brittany, 15, of Lake Jackson. At age 13, Brittany joined the Academy of Ballet and soon after joined Festival Ballet company. She has performed numerous times. She also has attended workshops with such prestigious ballet schools as American Ballet Theater and Orlando Ballet.

Brittany has danced roles in “Coppelia” as one of the friends, the Chinese variation, as well as in “Peppermint,” “Show Corps” “Waltz of the Flowers” and previously in “The Nutcracker.” She danced the lead role in last season’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

“I’m thrilled to dance the role of Clara this season,” Brittany said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for someone my age to dance the Snow Pas de Deux with someone as talented as my partner and professional guest artist Norbert Nirewicz.

“I was able to take class with Norbert last summer during Festival Ballet’s summer workshop held here in Lake Jackson, so I’m very comfortable partnering with him this season.”

The “Nutcracker” production is challenging. On the first day of rehearsal the dancers are taught the choreography for the entire production. Once they have gone through several rehearsals, the choreographers and artistic director go back and pick out all the little flaws. The dancers’ hours are long and exhausting, but the benefits include not only the experience of the practices but also the ultimate reward of being on a professional stage with full lighting, costumes and make-up in front of an audience.

Dancing is a physically demanding art that asks the dancer to breathe life into it through emotion, passion, determination and love of the art form.

The performers in “The Nutcracker” leave a part of their heart and sweat on stage and give a piece of their soul to the audience.

For information or “Nutcracker” tickets, call Festival Ballet at 832-830-5987 or visit the Web site www. festivalballet.info.