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Huntsville Ballet Company to perform The Nutcracker Ballet Dec. 13-15

Special military night performance planned for Dec. 12

HUNTSVILLE – Generations have enjoyed the annual tradition of Huntsville Ballet Company’s performance of The Nutcracker Ballet. Accompanied by the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, the timeless classic returns again to Von Braun Center’s Mark C. Smith Concert Hall Dec. 13-15.

HBC is celebrating over 50 years of bringing the show to North Alabama. Performed to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score played by HSO, The Nutcracker Ballet tells the story of a young girl’s gift of a nutcracker from her mysterious godfather.

Set in the 1850’s in Huntsville, Alabama, the HBC’s production of The Nutcracker has a traditional feel thanks to the Huntsville history sets and elaborate antebellum-style costumes. It opens at the historic Huntsville home of the Erskine family as Tchaikovsky’s music tells the story of The Nutcracker, a gift from Laura Erskine’s mysterious godfather Drosselmeyer.

As the magical nutcracker comes to life, the young girl is whisked away to The Land of the Sweets, where she is entertained by a dazzling array of colorful characters from around the world.  The performance is enhanced by a magical growing Christmas tree, as well as other special effects, and spectacular hand sewn costumes.

The performance includes a cast of 150, including students from the school, the entire professional company of Huntsville Ballet and a few special local celebrities in walk on parts.

Giving students an opportunity to come up through the Huntsville Ballet Company’s school and stay in Huntsville has been a goal of creative director Phillip Otto since he took the helm in 2008. The Company now employs twelve dancers, six women and six men.

“We have professionals who dance with us that come from Texas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, and Connecticut as well as those who have trained right here in Alabama,” Otto said. “We also have local dancers who grew up through the training at the Huntsville Ballet School and stay here with the Company.”

Otto, a professional dancer himself, studied and trained with George Balanchine, as well as alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov and a host of other distinguished dancers. He has been performing ballet since he was six-years-old. Aspiring young dancers seek out Otto when considering their matriculation in a professional dance program. This has helped the HBC transition over the years into the professional ballet company for Huntsville.

Huntsville is growing into more of a cosmopolitan area and we are hoping we can grow alongside the city and really become North Alabama’s professional ballet company,” Otto said.

The Nutcracker Ballet has a special place in Otto’s heart. He was chosen by Balanchine in New York City to be the Nutcracker prince when he was a little boy. “It just wouldn’t be Christmas without The Nutcracker,” he said.

Another interesting side note to the upcoming performance is that Huntsville Ballet has a new male dancer, Logan Paschall, who is in the Guinness Book of World Record, for the most consecutive split jumps. He has held the record since 2017 with 30 jumps.

Tickets are available online at www.ticketmaster.com or in person at the Von Braun Center’s box office at 256-551-2345. Group discount rates are available. For more information contact Huntsville Ballet at 256-539-0961 or huntsvilleballet.org.

HBC’s Nutcracker public performances are Friday, Dec. 13 at 7:30pm; Saturday, Dec. 14 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm; and Sunday, Dec. 15 at 1:00 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Benefit Night

The last Sunday performance is a benefit performance at Von Braun Center Concert Hall. It does not include Huntsville Symphony Orchestra. Tickets for this performance only are available directly through Huntsville Ballet Office at a reduced rate.

Military Night

A special treat this year will be the military night performance on Thursday, Dec. 12.  Active duty, retired, guard and reserve military members and their families are invited to a complimentary performance of The Nutcracker.

HBC is partnering with the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots for a fourth year and will have boxes at the door for donations of new, unwrapped toys. The Rocket City Jazz Orchestra will open the evening at 6 p.m. followed by Huntsville Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker at 7p.m.

Complimentary tickets will be available with proper Identification at Huntsville Ballet 800 Regal Drive and at the ITR Office beginning Nov. 25.

There is no charge for this performance, but you must have a ticket to enter.

Nutcracker Ball

Before The Nutcracker performances, guests can enjoy a festive evening at the 11th annual Nutcracker Ball, a black tie optional event featuring dinner, silent and live auctions and dancing. It will be held at the VBC North Hall on Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m.

This event serves as a kick-off celebration for the holiday season with a special performance by members of Huntsville Ballet Company. The proceeds from the Nutcracker Ball benefit Huntsville Ballet and its Discover Dance outreach programs, which provide dance and movement-based educational opportunities throughout the community.

“The Discover Dance is an innovative and vital program offering school-age children the opportunity to nourish the mind and body through the exploration of movement,” Otto said. “We partner with the Village of Promise in a dance education residency program at their community center; this program was launched last year and will culminate in a performance in the spring.”

For more information about The Nutcracker Ball, to be added to the invitation list, or to donate, email balletguildhsv@gmail.com.

Coming Up

When the 2019 holiday season is a fond memory, the Huntsville Ballet Company will shift gears a little on its way to the spring performances of Peter Pan.

HBC will host a new performance series, Off-Stage, on Feb. 4-6 in the VBC Playhouse. Otto said the new offering is an out of the box, up close, and informal series featuring both the classics and work from new choreographers.

It also includes a question and answer session with the dancers follows each of these inspiring performances.

In April, the Huntsville Ballet will close out its 56th season with Peter Pan.

The dancers travel to Neverland for the adventures of the Lost Boys, Captain Hook, swashbuckling pirates, a hungry crocodile, pixie dust, and Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up.  Performances are scheduled to April 17-19 at the VBC Concert Hall.

There will also be a special Pirates and Princesses Ball, given by the Huntsville Ballet Guild, prior to the Saturday performance.

The Huntsville Ballet Company and Huntsville Ballet School are under the umbrella of Community Ballet Association, Inc., a non-pr ofit member of the state and local Arts Councils.


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