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For 35 years, the Dance Centre of Elizabethtown has presented “The Nutcracker” to audiences young and old.
Sherry Barnard, owner, has experienced the joy of “The Nutcracker” for all 35 years. Waverly Williams, 14, has been dancing for 11 years and this year plays Clara, the lead role.
The ballet centers around Clara’s adventure in the magical world of the Nutcracker Prince.
It begins, Waverly said, as Clara’s parents are throwing a party for family and friends. At the party, Clara receives a nutcracker doll from her uncle. Her brother later jealously breaks it.
Clara is brokenhearted but her love for the doll opens up a new magical world she soon enters, Waverly said.
“It’s about a person that loves something so much it becomes real,” Waverly said.
The same could be said of her goal to dance as Clara.
She’s practiced for many years, all along wanting to be Clara.
“It’s like a Christmas present — getting your big role and having everyone watch you,” she said.
Waverly said she’s fortunate to learn from an experienced dancer such as Barnard, or Ms. Sherry, as she’s known to the dancers.
“It’s cool having someone who’s been in the dance world for a while and knows better so they teach you what they know,” she said.
Over the 35 years of the show, Barnard guesses she’s trained hundreds of dancers.
When the show was first produced, only the familiar dances from the second act were performed, she said.
The first year, 23 dancers had to perform several roles. Now, the cast has as many as 110 dancers, she said.
Most still have more than one role, but the roles can be spread out more evenly, she said.
She also mixes up the ages of those who play the roles from time to time.
“In other words, it does not always have to be very small children dancing as Pulchinellas,” she said, explaining the Pulchinellas come out from under Mother Ginger’s skirt during the ballet.
Barnard also has trained dancers and then, years later, dancers’ children.
“Not long ago we even had the granddaughter of a former student with us,” she said. “Oh, my.”
She tries to change things in the production each year to keep it fresh and new because she feels she owes it to the audience that returns each year.
This year, three new sets have been added to the opening scene, the snow forest and Kingdom of Sweet have a new look and Mother Ginger has a new costume. “Guest mothers” appear in the Mother Ginger costume.
With the enormity of the production, Barnard always has depended on parents of the dancers to help.
“I could never undertake such a major ballet like ‘The Nutcracker’ all by myself,” she said.
Parents help with sets, costumes, props, work backstage, handle fundraising and perform onstage in the opening party scene.
“For many other people, seeing ‘The Nutcracker’ helps to start the Christmas season, at least it does for me,” Barnard said.
Performances are at 1:30 and 6 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 to $25.
Clara’s Tea Party, a chance to eat treats and meet the cast, is at noon Saturday. Tickets for Clara’s Tea Party are $10.
For more information or tickets, go to www.thepac.net or call (270) 769-8837. Reservations are required for Clara’s Tea Party.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.