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City Ballet brings new costuming, professional dancers to this year’s ‘Nutcracker’

City Ballet brings new costuming, professional dancers to this year’s ‘Nutcracker’

Hagerstown doesn’t have to “dream of sugarplums” much longer.

The City Ballet School and The Western Maryland City Ballet Company bring their annual “Nutcracker” production to The Maryland Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 15, at 3 p.m.

“It’s our gift to the community and it is always our hope that our performances leave our audience feeling inspired,” said Danielle Horochowski, owner and artistic director of The City Ballet School and the director and founder of The Western Maryland City Ballet Company.

This year the show features new costuming and backdrops that add to the magic of the traditional storyline.

“The Nutcracker” brings the classic story of a young girl Clara to life after she falls asleep at her family’s holiday party on Christmas Eve and is swept away on a journey to a magical land of sweets.

Professional dancers Audra Johnson and Damien Johnson will be joining this year’s performances for the first time as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.

Audra has danced with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, The Washington Ballet and American Repertory Ballet. Damien has danced with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Los Angeles Ballet and Ballet Black.

“I think it’s really special to see local dancers sharing the stage with professional dancers,” Horochowski said. “We are currently in our 10th season of ‘The Nutcracker’ and every year we try some new things. I think our Nutcracker is really special because there is so much to see.”

Madeline Semler, 16, a sophomore at North Hagerstown High School, was thrilled when she found out that she was cast as the Dew Drop Fairy for this year’s production.

“I remember getting the email with my roles and tears of excitement came to my eyes,” said Madeline, who has been dancing for 13 years. “Before I joined this studio, I would come to watch the City Ballet perform the Nutcracker every year, and I fell in love with the show, especially the flower scene. I remember watching the Dew Drop Fairy year after year, and I am very excited and honored to be on the stage performing the role.”

In addition to the show, City Ballet is hosting a “Land of the Sweets Party” on Dec. 15 at 5:30 p.m. in the new ballroom at The Maryland Theatre. The party will feature live music, a DJ, dancing, sweet treats and photo opportunities with characters from the show.

Tickets to “The Nutcracker” and the “Land of the Sweets Party” can be purchased online at

“I think it is such a beautiful tradition because it’s a wonderful way to spend time with your family, experience the ballet and to create memories,” Horochowski said.

Photos courtesy of City Ballet School.

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