BRATTLEBORO >> The Brattleboro School of Dance and the Company of Muses will once again dazzle Brattleboro audiences with Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." The New England Youth Theater will be transformed into the enchanted land of Clara's dream with the Sugar Plum Fairy, life-size toy soldiers, giant mice and dancing clowns. This is the third year that this beloved Christmas ballet has been offered to the community under the direction of owner and artistic director of BSD, Jennifer Moyse. She has the help of nine faculty members choreographing the dances this year, allowing her to focus on other aspects of the production.
To keep the show time at a family-friendly 90 minutes Moyse makes adjustments from year to year. This year she shortened the party scene a bit and took out the snow scenes's Pas De Deux, but lengthened the dramatic battle scene she had just added to the production last year, and this year to be choreographed by production manager Francesca Bourgault, Moyse said that she has grown to love the battle scene more and more, appreciating how musically challenging it is with all its moving parts.
Moyse faces many challenges facilitating the logistics for complicated sets such as the ones for this full-scale production. One problem to solve was to devise a way for the snow to shake out evenly on stage in the snow scenes, and just days before opening night carpenters were still busy putting the finishing touches on the telescoping Christmas tree that grows in proportion to the life size toys as Clara's dream comes to life, creating what Moyse called theater magic.
Everyone who auditions for a "The Nutcracker" is given a role at their level of experience, Young dancers in the party scene last year may be toy soldiers this year as their level of expertise grows. Moyse's own seven-year-old son Dashiell Moyse is starting out dancing in the party scene and as one of the clowns. The leading role of Clara is so demanding that two ballerinas fill her slippers. Ten-year-old Sophie Jones and nine-year-old Genevieve Redmond share the limelight with the Nutcracker Prince to be danced by Justin Vasselli, who also played that role last year. Much to Dashiell's delight his mom is dancing as the Mouse King and for the ending of the dream scene Phoebe Green as the Sugar Plum Fairy and professional guest artist Scott Spivey as the Cavalier will dance a beautiful Pas De Deux. All of the dancers, from roles in the party scenes to the leading roles, are held to very high standards, this is not just a recital but a semi-professional production. It demands that the dancers make rehearsal time a priority.
This is the sixth Nutcracker that Green has been in, working her way up to land a leading role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. She will also dance in the snow scene. Green, whose ambition is to become a professional ballerina, is very excited to be partnering with Spivey and is thankful to Moyse for casting her in a difficult but fun, dream role.
Moyse said the Cavalier and the Sugar Plum Fairy Pas De Deux is her favorite dance. She said, "It makes me cry, I love it!"
There will be a Meet the Ballerinas event at NEYT at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday when the Sugar Plum Fairy, Dew Drop soloists, the Snow Queen, and Marion Major, (an alum of BSD) will be signing autographs on passports from the travels in the Land of Sweets. Bring a camera or cell phone and take a picture with a ballerina!
BSD's "The Nutcracker" is a fundraiser in a collaboration with the Company of Muses whose mission is to provide scholarships for the performing arts in New England, benefitting mostly BSC students, but not exclusively. The Company of Muses was formed two years ago as the need for scholarships for their students outgrew the school's scholarship funding. Incorporated as a nonprofit opens up opportunities for more scholarships to their students.
This will also be the last chance to enjoy BSD's "The Nutcracker" for another two years, since Moyse plans future productions to be every other year, alternating with Keene, N.H.'s MoCo Arts performance.
Show times are 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and a matinee performances at 1 and 5 p.m. on Sunday. General admission is $15. Advance tickets can be purchased online at www.brattleboroschoolofdance.com, or in person on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Brattleboro School of Dance studio, located at 22 High St, The New England Youth Theater is located at 100 Flat St., Brattleboro.