The New River Valley is resplendent with dance opportunities ~ for spectators, children and participants. No matter your age or skill level, there’s a place for you and your dancing shoes, or boots, or clogs, or stocking feet. From the Appalachian traditions embedded in square dancing and clogging, through the swing bands of the 1940s and ballrooms of same era, to the refined, precision movements in ballet, the region is generously endowed with it all.
Blacksburg Ballet has presented “The Nutcracker” every other year for more than a decade with extraordinary poise and grace, and it exceeds its own exquisite performance each time. This year’s Dec. 14 production will feature special appearances by professional soloists and guest artists, and HokieBird is rumored to have a presence. Can he walk tiptoe on those chicken-like feet?
Showcasing more than 150 dancers from the Summer Musical Enterprise, the Dance Company at Virginia Tech and Dance.tech Performing Arts Studio, the classic tale by E.T.A. Hoffman endures in the hearts of everyone who has seen it. The stage presentation is a little closer to a revision by the French author Alexander Dumas, but the story line remains the same: Clara, a young German girl, dreams of a Nutcracker prince and his battle against a Mouse King. The Nutcracker rallies toy soldiers to fight against the mouse army, and it is only when Clara throws her shoe at the head of the Mouse King and he dies that victory comes to the Nutcracker.
Young dancers perform on stage with their peers and instructors, and Dance.tech instructor Catie Cheek says that “it is a great lesson in remembering that you can learn as much from your pupils as they learn from you.” A previous dancer with Blacksburg Ballet, Lindy Mesmer, is now semi-professional and will be performing as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York City and with the Radio City Rockettes.
The entire local cast of “The Nutcracker” considers their production a gift to the New River Valley community. The gift to themselves this year is traveling to New York City to see Lindy, their friend and co-dancer in previous ballet performances, which just proves that the New River Valley is not too small or too remote or too anything to develop spectacular talent that can grace performances in large arts centers of the big cities.
Dec. 14, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Tickets: $12 adult; $8 age 12 and under from Blacksburg Ballet office, 1101 N. Main St. Tickets: $15 adult; $10 age 12 and under from UUSA ticket office at Virginia Tech
Information: 961-6666 or www.tickets.vt.edu
Groups of 8 or more may request discount tickets.
By Joanne M. Anderson
Photos courtesy of Blacksburg Ballet