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the nutcracker

New York City Ballet’s Brittany Pollack and Daniel Ulbricht are this year’s special guests. Photo courtesy of New York Dance Theatre

New York Dance Theatre, under the direction of former New York City Ballet soloist Frank Ohman, will present its 37th season of “The Nutcracker” at Hofstra University, 1000 Hempstead Turnpike, Hempstead, on Saturday, Dec. 15 and Sunday, Dec. 16 with performances each day at noon and 5 p.m. 

Special guest artists Daniel Ulbricht and Brittany Pollack of New York City Ballet return to perform as the Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier.   

Over the years, Frank Ohman has created original dances and scenes that have been incorporated into the ballet, but as a former student and soloist under George Balanchine he is one of a select few authorized to use the original pas de deux choreography of his mentor. Ohman will continue his tradition of playing the role of the grandfather in the party scene that opens the ballet.

The role of Clara’s mysterious godfather Herr Drosselmeier will be played by former New York City Ballet soloist Robert Maiorano.   

With the elegant Christmas party scene, the drama of the magical growing Christmas Tree, the Battle of the Toy Soldiers and Giant Mice, the live Snow Storm and the brilliant dancing in the Land of the Sweets, “The Nutcracker” appeals to all ages.

In all, a cast of 80 children, preprofessional and professional dancers will bring this classic story ballet to life on the stage of the university’s John Cranford Adams Playhouse. The children’s roles are performed by students of the Frank Ohman School of Ballet in Commack, representing a variety of towns in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Tickets for this full production ballet are $42 adults, $32 seniors and children 12 and under. To order, visit  www.ohmanballet.org or call 631-462-0964. 

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Photo courtesy of Fathom Events

The Bolshoi Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker,” captured live on Dec. 21, 2014, will be screened at select cinemas on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 12:55 p.m., courtesy of Fathom Events. As the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Eve, Marie’s wooden nutcracker doll comes to life and transforms into a prince! Soon joined by her other toys that have also come to life, Marie and her prince embark on a dreamy unforgettable adventure.

A holiday tradition for the whole family, “The Nutcracker” graces the Bolshoi stage for two hours of enchantment and magic. Along with Tchaikovsky’s cherished score and starring Denis Rodkin (the Nutcracker Prince), Anna Nikulina (Marie), Andrei Merkuriev (Drosselmeyer), Vitaly Biktimirov (the Mouse King) and the Bolshoi Corps de Ballet, “The Nutcracker” remains a treasure not to be missed.

Participating movie theaters in our neck of the woods include AMC Loews Stony Brook 17, 2196 Nesconset Highway, Stony Brook; Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas, 1001 Broadhollow Road, Farmingdale; and Island 16 Cinema de Lux, 185 Morris Ave., Holtsville. Tickets range from $18 to $19. To purchase your ticket in advance, visit www.fathomevents.com.

Auditions for children’s roles in New York Dance Theatre’s 2017 production of “The Nutcracker” (four performances presented at Hofstra University) will be held on Sunday, June 4 at 1 p.m. at the Frank Ohman School of Ballet, 60 Calvert Ave., Commack. Children ages 6 through 15 may attend ($20 audition fee).

There will be a second audition for advanced dancers on pointe on Sunday, June 11 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the same location. The $20 audition fee for advanced dancers includes a full ballet technique class followed by an audition on pointe. Proper ballet attire is required for all ages. Call 631-462-6266 or visit www.ohmanballet.org for important information.

Photo courtesy of Fathom Events

Just in time for the holidays, Fathom Events and the Autism Society of America will bring a first-of-its-kind sensory-friendly cinema event featuring the Bolshoi Ballet’s 2014 production of “The Nutcracker,” captured from the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia, to select cinemas nationwide on Monday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m.

Danced by the Bolshoi’s principals, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s fairy tale staged by Russian ballet master Yuri Grigorovich will transport children and adults alike to a world of magic and wonder for the holiday season. In this special cinema presentation audience members are encouraged to be themselves; the lights will be turned up, the sound will be turned down and you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing!

Participating theaters in our neck of the woods include AMC Loews 17 in Stony Brook, Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas and Island 16: Cinema de Lux in Holtsville. For more information, visit www.fathomevents.com.

unknown-2The Seiskaya Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” a perennial holiday favorite on Long Island, returns to Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts for a six-performance run from Friday, Dec. 16 to Monday, Dec. 19. This classical ballet rendition has earned praise from critics and audiences alike. Hailed in its 1995 debut as Long Island’s most lavish “Nutcracker,” the Seiskaya Ballet production of the classic holiday ballet is a truly international collaboration, choreographed by world-renowned Russian-born choreographer Valia Seiskaya.

This year’s cast will be led by guest artist Nick Coppula (pictured above), formerly with the Pittsburgh Ballet, who will play the role of Cavalier, and Seiskaya’s award-winning principal dancers Jenna Lee, Diana Atoian and Brianna Jimenez (pictured above) along with first soloists Max Lippman, Jamie Bergold, Amber Donnelly and Lara Caraiani.

Performances will be held on Friday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2 and 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 18 at 1 and 6 p.m. and Monday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 adults, $34 children and seniors, and $30 for groups of 20 or more; on sale now at the Staller Center Box Office at 631-632-ARTS and at www.nutcrackerballet.com. (Box office hours are noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and one hour prior to all performances. Online seat selection is available for all shows.)

Last year's performance of 'The Nutracker.' Photo courtesy of Harbor Ballet Theatre.

By Kevin Redding

Toy soldiers, angels, sword-wielding mice and a sugar plum fairy are back in town to spread the magic of Christmas to audiences young and old.

For more than two decades, the North Shore community has looked to Port Jefferson’s Harbor Ballet Theatre to officially kick off the holiday season each year with its dazzling production of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”Coming up on its 25th anniversary production, the not-for-profit dance company gears up to deliver another unforgettable spectacle. John Worrell, executive artistic director of the show, said that the calibre of their production has helped it become a holiday tradition among the community.

“The dancing, the dancers, the choreography and the sets are incredible,” said Worrell. “Just the way that we tell the story is very understandable and very easy for everyone to follow. It really sets the tone for Port Jefferson and Setauket and Stony Brook and Miller Place because everybody gravitates to get that holiday feeling.”

Harbor Ballet Theatre was founded in 1991 by Worrell and his wife Amy Tyler as an open company to give dancers of all ages the opportunity to be part of professionally staged ballet productions. Worrell said it was also created to allow anybody from anywhere to come and audition, which is why there are so many new faces on a year-to-year basis as well as longtime dancers.

Last year's performance of 'The Nutracker.' Photo courtesy of Harbor Ballet Theatre.
A scene from last year’s performance of ‘The Nutracker.’ Photo courtesy of Harbor Ballet Theatre.

This production will feature about 70 performers, a majority of them between the ages 6 and 25. Auditions were held in the second week of September and the first rehearsal took place on the first weekend of October, giving way to 10 to 12 strenuous yet worthwhile rehearsals before the final show. Some of the senior dancers in the show even committed six to seven days a week for at least two hours a day to rehearsal.

“That whole debate whether dance is a sport … they [dancers] train like athletes,” said Worrell. “They work drills everyday. To be able to get to the level they want to be and be able to do their solos in the second act and lift each other up, they have to work their butts off.”

Richard Liebert and Rebecca Stafford, seniors from Earl L. Vandermuellen High School, are among some of the more experienced dancers in the production. Liebert, who plays the Mouse King, said there are a lot of physical challenges.

“There are times [in the show] where I have to lift a girl over my head and turn her,” said Liebert. “It could be a bit intimidating … but it’s worthwhile. I love doing it.”

“We’re with our friends, so we’re having fun,” said Stafford, who plays Harlequin.

Worrell said that at the start of production, he and Amy watched the DVD from the previous year’s show and figured out what, if anything, they wanted to change. The most common changes year-to-year have to do with solos, which depend on the dancers in the show, what their strengths are, and what they feel most comfortable doing.

Worrell said that there are plans to add a new element this year but wants to keep it a surprise and “make sure that it works first.”“We try to add something new every year, every two years … just to keep it fresh, so the audience will find it fun to watch,” he said.

Join Harbor Ballet Theatre in celebrating its 25th anniversary of “The Nutcracker” and prepare to be swept away by the extravagant sets, rich costumes, passionate acting and dancing and Tchaikovsky’s masterful music.

Performances of “The Nutcracker” will be held on Friday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 4, at 3 p.m. at Earl L. Vandermuellen High School, 350 Old Post Road, Port Jefferson. All seats are $25 in advance, cash or check only. For more information, please call 631-331-3149.