City Ballet & Western Maryland Ballet Company promise new adventure with 'The Nutcracker'
When 11-year-old Kallie Green was 3 years old, she saw City Ballet and Western Maryland Ballet Company’s production of “The Nutcracker.”
And Kallie was immediately mesmerized.
“When I first saw Clara, I just made up my mind and I really wanted to be here,” she said. “And I feel all my hard work has added up to now. So I’m really excited to be Clara this year.”
The sixth-grader at Springfield Middle School will make her debut as Clara when she performs with City Ballet and Western Maryland Ballet Company at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at The Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown.
Kallie said to play Clara “you have to have to give a really great performance and artistry.”
“And you have to love dance,” she said. “Obviously, if you don’t love dance you can’t put in hours of work. The thing about being Clara is that you have to have facial expressions and be very artistic while you’re dancing.”
“The Nutcracker” is a show that Kallie loves because she said, “it’s so magical.”
“I absolutely adore the ‘Land of Sweets’ and I love the ‘Waltz of the Flowers,’” she said. “It’s such a magical thing that I’m happy to be in.”
And, she said, she already has her sights set on future roles.
“A part I definitely would want to be is the Dew Drop, she’s a fairy and she’s in the ‘Waltz of the Flowers,’ and she’s a soloist and I find that it a really cool thing to dance as a soloist in a company,” she said.
Regardless, Kallie said, “The Nutcracker” is a show that’s something to fall in love with.
“There’s a lot of things I really love about it, but I love that it has aspects from the real world and putting it into a magical story,” she said. “So in the party scene when Fritz is terrorizing and being mean to Clara that has to do with the battle scene in ‘The Nutcracker.’ I love how there’s aspects of that in the magical part of that.”
Artistic director Danielle Horochowski said they stage “The Nutcracker” for a number of reasons.
“‘The Nutcracker’ is a staple of classical ballet. Every ballet company in the whole world does ‘The Nutcracker’ at Christmastime. It’s a special tradition, and it’s a special Christmas tradition and a special ballet tradition,” she said. “Our students grow through our program and grow through roles and levels and its’ very meaningful for everyone here and we want to share with people here in Hagerstown.”
There are 85 children in this production, along with 15 adults. Joining them are dancers from the Carolina Ballet. Dancers range in age from 4 and “everything you can imagine” in between, she said.
Horochowski said watching her students go from early rehearsals and inch to the opening day is something she is proud of watching.
“It really is an amazing transformation,” she said. Dancers really come into their selves as dancers and performers.
Ben Pierce, 13, of Greencastle, Pa., returns this season to again play Nutcracker in the show.
Ben, who attends Corpus Christi Catholic School in Chambersburg, Pa., said he’s grown as a dancer since last year’s performance.
“I feel like I can give a more artistic aspect to it,” he said. “After the spring and over the summer, after doing “Peter Pan” I got a lot stronger through acting and technique as well. I feel more expressive on stage than last year. I don’t feel ‘this is brand new, I don’t know what I’m doing.’ But now it feels a lot more comfortable.”
As for “The Nutcracker,” Ben said he loves how the show is not only a tradition for the company but for the audience as well. And, how “this ballet has it all.”
“I love how there’s so many dances and everything’s so different,” he said.
The students have been in rehearsals every Saturday and Sunday since the third week of September on top of weekly classes to ready themselves for the ballet. But Ben said that schedule might help him pursue a dream.
“I feel if I ever become a professional dancer. It’s going to be lots of commitment of being there on time and being there on times when I might not want to be up that day and just want to stay home,” he said.
Those who haven’t seen City Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” in previous years, Ben said they should return.
“I feel that this year we added a lot of new things and pretty funny things,” he said. “It’s great to come out to see ‘The Nutcracker’ every year, but coming out this year it would be a better experience because we have people in different roles.
Maddie Bowers, 17, of Hagerstown, will perform as four different roles — Big Mouse, Snow soloist, Spanish soloist and a Dew Drop.
“I love everything about ‘The Nutcracker.’ I don’t think I can just pick one thing,” she said. “I love the story. And I love all the different dances in Act II. I think one of my favorite parts of rehearsal is when we finally get together toward the end and see anything we haven’t gotten to see before.”
Maddie, who has been dancing for 14 years and attends North Hagerstown High School, said she loves bringing the show to the audience.
“The energy that the audience gives off is so good. And I just love feeding off their energy and being able to give something back to them that we’ve been working so hard on,” she said. “It’s really nice to be able to show people all the hard work we spend here in the studio. We do spend a lot of time making sure everything looks really good.”
For Maddie, though, it’s about the relationships they have backstage that helps tell the story onstage.
“The cast is really great. We have a really good chemistry,” she said. “We’re really like a family, we’re really close and we’re really good friends. So the chemistry is good and I think that makes the show a lot better when everyone’s getting along like a family.”