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Ballet Theatre Company’s Winter Season: The One Without ‘The Nutcracker’

BTC Season Dancer Emily Silva performing the Mirliton Flute dance inside the Carriage Porch at the Hill-Stead Museum. Photo by Stephanie Dattellas

While West Hartford’s Ballet Theatre Company will not be performing the full version of ‘The Nutcracker’ for the first time ever, there are multiple Nutcracker-related activities to safely enjoy this holiday season.

Land of the Sweets characters in BTC’s 2019 production of The Nutcracker. Photo by Thomas Giroir.

Submitted

This holiday season is the first since the late 1960s that the curtain will not rise on a rendition of the classical ballet “The Nutcracker” for many ballet companies in America.

Most would agree that it doesn’t feel like the holidays without attending a performance of the beloved holiday ballet at their local theater. For many professional dancers, seeing or participating in a performance of The Nutcracker as a young girl or boy was what inspired them to pursue such a career. Although Nutcracker-lovers everywhere are feeling the emptiness of not spending their weekends in rehearsals, Ballet Theatre Company of West Hartford is offering several Nutcracker-related events, digital performance opportunities, and community engagements to the Greater Hartford community and beyond.

From Dec. 5 thru Dec. 27, Ballet Theatre Company will digitally present its pre-recorded performance of “The Nutcracker.” The presentation features choreography by BTC’s Artistic Director Stephanie Dattellas, several local and regional professional dancers, and students from BTC’s affiliated training school, The School of Ballet Theatre Company.

BTC first premiered this rendition of the classic tale in 2018. Choreographer Stephanie Dattellas included some extra special touches and fun additions to captivate audiences. To bring the story closer to home, the dolls in the Act 1 Party Scene are replicas of West Hartford’s prominent historical figure Noah Webster, accompanied by a student ballerina doll who dances with his first book, the Blue-Backed Speller. Dattellas’ Party Scene also includes an engaging Overture Scene with party guests traveling to the Stahlbaum’s home, and a mischievous character named Cousin Phineas, who causes chaos among the other party children and tests Godfather Drosselmeyer’s patience. The Battle Scene features a high energy performance by hip-hop dancers from Studio-8-Sixty leading into a blizzard of dancing snowflakes featuring BTC’s Corps de Ballet.

BTC Corps de Ballet member, Sofia Brummitt, performing as the Blue-Backed Speller Ballerina Doll in the Act I Party Scene in BTC’s 2019 production of The Nutcracker. Photo by Thomas Giroir.

Act II features each of the seven divertissements showcasing several talents. The Mirliton dancers perform quick footwork, Arabian dancers show off their flexibility, the Russian dancers soar high into the air with explosive leaps, and the Waltz of the Flowers perform a beautiful waltz creating kaleidoscope patterns with flowered hoops. To culminate this series of dazzling performances, Clara is granted her ultimate wish of transforming into the Sugar Plum Fairy and shares a pas de deux under the starlit sky with her Cavalier before awakening from her dream.

Tickets are $25 per household and are based upon IP address. Ticket holders will have access to the digital performance through midnight on Sunday, Dec. 27.

Dancers Derek Brockington of Dance Theatre of Harlem and Jane Krantz of The Hartford Dance Collective performing the Arabian dance. Photo by Thomas Giroir

BTC Corps de Ballet member, Sofia Brummitt, performing as the Blue-Backed Speller Ballerina Doll in the Act I Party Scene in BTC’s 2019 production of The Nutcracker. Photo by Thomas Giroir.

Community outreach

In past years, as a part of the company’s Community Youth Outreach Program, BTC has produced A Children’s Nutcracker, a private, full-length, sensory-friendly performance of the company’s version of The Nutcracker to children and families of local partnered advocacy agencies free of charge.

BTC cast members meeting audience members after the 2019 performance of A Children’s Nutcracker at the University of Saint Joseph. Photo by Tracy Dorman

This season, while theaters remain closed, BTC has been hard at work finding creative and innovative ways to reach children and families in underserved communities to bring them much-needed holiday spirit and Nutcracker cheer. In this season of giving, consider purchasing a household ticket for a local family in need to attend this digital performance of The Nutcracker. Upon purchase of a household ticket for your family, you will be prompted to add a special ticket to your shopping cart in order to help BTC bring joy into a Greater Hartford area household.

BTC cast members meeting audience members after the 2019 performance of A Children’s Nutcracker at the University of Saint Joseph. Photo by Tracy Dorman

Another annual outreach Nutcracker initiative is a long-standing partnership with Hartford Performs. Hartford Performs is a local not-for-profit organization whose mission is to connect all Hartford Public School students to quality arts experiences that advance student learning and deepen engagement in the community.

In past years, students of Hartford Public Schools were bused to the University of Saint Joseph Hoffman Auditorium for an abbreviated performance of BTC’s The Nutcracker. This year, BTC and Hartford Performs are continuing their partnership through offering a digital Nutcracker Activity Workbook complete with a digital story book, access to recorded performance excerpts, and related Nutcracker activities suitable for grades K-6 that will be distributed to teachers throughout the school district.

Hartford Public School students anticipating the start of BTC’s abbreviated 2019 performance of The Nutcracker at the University of Saint Joseph. Photo by Tracy Dorman

Clara’s Tea Party

Clara’s Tea Party, a popular BTC Nutcracker festivity for young performance go-ers, has also been adapted this season. Clara and several of her Land of the Sweets friends will host a virtual tea party via Zoom on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 1 p.m.

The tea party event will include delicious treats courtesy of Disheveled Diva, a fun and interactive Nutcracker Bingo game, and a raffle drawing for participants to win a holiday basket courtesy of Bree Kids! Tickets to the tea party are $30 for one child and an additional $10 for an additional child in the same household.

All ticket purchases include a tea party goodie bag that must be picked up by participants on Saturday, Dec. 12, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Ballet Theatre Company’s studio location, 20 Jefferson Ave., West Hartford.

Nutcracker Passport

A new and exciting addition to this year without a Nutcracker, is BTC’s Nutcracker Passport. At BTC’s in-person performances, patrons typically receive a production booklet that includes cast lists, performer’s biographies, and several advertisements for local businesses ranging from sponsorships of particular scenes to business card-sized ads. This year, with many West Hartford businesses continuing to struggle due to effects of the pandemic, BTC is showing its support through the creation of its West Hartford Nutcracker Passport.

The Nutcracker Passport is a journey through West Hartford’s local shops and restaurants that provides incentive for shoppers to keep their holiday purchases local this season to benefit the community that we all call home.

This ultimate shopper’s guide features fourteen participating West Hartford businesses including Playa Bowls, Kaliubon Ramen, Ooh La La Boutique, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Fleet Feet, Kimberly Boutique, Poke City, The Fix IV Therapy, Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming, Sock Starz, Ten Thousand Villages, Cafe Sofia, Mosaic Sun, and Taste by Spellbound. Each business is categorized by a point value.

With any purchase from a participating business, shoppers/diners will receive an exclusive passport sticker to add to the Nutcracker Passport pamphlet. An earned sticker equals the indicated number of points next to the business name. Shoppers who earn at least 26 of the possible 42 points and mail the passport back to Ballet Theatre Company by Dec. 31 will be entered into the Grand Prize drawing of a West Hartford holiday basket including $1,000 worth of gift cards and goods! Shoppers who collect ALL participating business stickers, will be entered in the drawing twice! Winners will be announced on Friday, Jan. 8 at noon via BTC’s Facebook LIVE.

Graphics by BTC Corps de Ballet member, Sofia Brummitt. Design by Laurel Graphic Design

Nutcracker Reimagined

West Hartford shoppers and diners are not the only ones being entertained by Ballet Theatre Company this holiday season. Guests of the Hill-Stead Museum are in for a treat with an experience of The Nutcracker Reimagined from now through the beginning of the New Year. Until Jan. 10, BTC’s Through the Tulle costume exhibition will be on display throughout the historic Farmington home.

BTC’s Season Dancers and Corps de Ballet members posted outside the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT. Photo by Stephanie Dattellas

Through Dec. 20, on Saturdays and Sundays between 1 and 5 p.m., BTC’s Season Dancers and Corps de Ballet dancers will perform excerpts from The Nutcracker inside the Carriage Porch for visitors to view from the outdoors, mimicking holiday windows come to life. On Dec. 11 and 12, BTC’s resident professional dancers will present excerpts of The Nutcracker in an exclusive Snowflake Soiree performance.

Advanced ticket purchases are required for holiday festivities and can be purchased on the Hill-Stead Museum website.

BTC Corps de Ballet members Sophia Pirrotta and Sofia Brummitt performing the Spanish dance nside the Carriage Porch at the Hill-Stead Museum. Photo by Stephanie Dattellas

In a final attempt to keep the holiday season bright with visions of sugar plums, BTC will be participating in West Hartford’s “Stroll Your Own Way,” which is a socially distant version of the annual Holiday Stroll. BTC will decorate the windows at 51 Isham Rd. in Blue Back Square with a cheerful Land of the Sweets display complete with dazzling Nutcracker tutus.

To keep up to date with current happenings, sign up for Ballet Theatre Company’s newsletters, follow BTC on Instagram, and like us on Facebook. Although this season may look different, BTC believes in the power of the performing arts and is committed to serving the Greater Hartford community offering inspiring and engaging performing arts experiences for all.

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