“The Nutcracker” Ballet performances this weekend at the Williamsport Community Arts Center on Saturday, December 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 4 at 4:00 p.m
The Pennsylvania College of Technology, Lycoming College, Saint John’s School of the Arts and the Williamsport Youth Choir present the timeless classic.
“It’s a huge community collaboration that brings together dancers, musicians and singers from our community,”said Theresa Kendall, the artistic director/choreographer of “The Nutcracker.”
Kendall has been a dancer, teacher and choreographer with Saint John’s School of the Arts (SOTA) since its inception in 1996. She was involved in the annual edition “Nutcracker” Production since 2017.
“We’re doing something that’s valuable to our community and I’m proud to be a part of it.” said William Ciabattari, music director of “The Nutcracker.”
Kendall and Ciabattari have been working together since 2014 and have been part of the Nutcracker production since 2017.
“This is the fifth ‘Nutcracker’ we’ve done as a partner. I feel like we know so much through experience that we can go into each session with more confidence. said Ciabattari.
“She is a delightful artistic collaborator and a lovely person as well.” he said.
The dancers, including the main performers, are all local and most of them are under 18 years old.
“We don’t bring professional dancers and (we) cast it entirely from our region”, said Kendall. “The dancers have been learning choreographies since the end of August. They practice hours each week to learn, expand, and refine technique, combinations, musicality, and ensemble awareness.”
The orchestra consists of members of the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, Lycoming College faculty members, some students and other local musicians.
“We hire great players” said Ciabattari. “We rehearse once without the dancers for about 3 hours. Then we get two long rehearsals with the dancers before we perform our shows. It’s coming together pretty quickly thanks to the preparation that’s going on before we ever enter the CAC.” he added.
“Dancing to live music is exciting. There is nothing so wonderful. I am grateful that my students are given this opportunity. It also challenges the dancers to listen carefully and be very focused.” said Kendall.
Each year’s production changes portions to make it new and exciting for both the dancers involved and the audience.
“This year, ‘The Waltz of the Flowers’ is a modern dance that incorporates beautiful flower baskets, flowing floral costumes and dynamic, sustained and leveled choreography.” She added.
This year’s production features 79 dancers and 226 costumes.
“Transporting all the costumes, props and accessories is a hassle, but it’s worth bringing this timeless Christmas story to our families and friends.” said Kendall. “It is a joy and a privilege in my life to work with my dancers. They are hardworking, friendly, helpful and encourage and support each other – always.” She said.
In the past, “The Nutcracker” was directed by Tom Enterline.
“When he decided to stop producing ‘The Nutcracker’ live, I made a few calls to see if we could take the lead but do it with a live orchestra.” said Ciabattari. “The first production we did was a big financial risk because we didn’t know if we could sell enough tickets to pay for it… That first production was successful, as have all our productions since.” said Ciabattari.
“Rebecca Ciabattari is the current SOTA Director. SOTA’s mission is to provide children, youth and adults in the greater Williamsport area with a school dedicated to the excellence of education in music and visual arts in an atmosphere and environment that supports Christian ethics.” said Kendall.
“I have established the motto ‘We dance for him’ and live it gratefully. SOTA is honored to continue to work with the CAC, Lycoming College and the Williamsport Youth Choir on this production.” She added.
Buy tickets for the performances on Saturday and Sunday “The Nutcracker” Visit www.caclive.com.