For years, the “Nutcracker” has been a staple of the holiday season and has enjoyed widespread popularity. The city of New Haven is no exception, with ballet companies and musicians performing the Nutcracker in a variety of artistic styles.
On Sunday, about 125 people attended the Victorian Nutcracker Tea Party Fundraiser in Orange. Tickets were $10 and all proceeds went to benefit the New England Ballet Company.
At the fund-raiser, performers who play Clara in the “Nutcracker” read the story aloud to children. The kids could have their pictures taken with the Sugar Plum Fairy and were given holiday treats.
The ballet company will give performances of the “Nutcracker” at the Parson’s Center in Milford starting Dec. 13. Tickets cost $22 or $25 dollars, depending on seating.
The nonprofit organization, which offers professional level performance opportunities to dancers of all ages, also gives free performances for school age children, including those in New Haven. The initiative has been successful, said John Torello, vice president of advertising and marketing for the company.
“When we perform in the school system, we get asked to come back,” he said.
The mission of the ballet company is to expose children to the performing arts as a vital element in their education. The company receives funding for the free shows from banks and other businesses.
“The company makes a difference by going right into the school system,” Torello said. “Kids come to us after performances wanting to learn ballet.”
At the Shubert Theater, the New Haven Ballet Company’s production of the “Nutcracker” has also been a traditional crowd-pleaser.
“Everyone can relate to the story,” said Phillip Otto, artistic director of the ballet company. “It’s appealing to young kids, families and kids of all ages.”
The New Haven Ballet Company, which has been performing the “Nutcracker” for nearly two decades, will begin its performances on Dec. 6. Tickets range from $20-$45 based on seating.
The New Haven Ballet allows students from almost all levels of its school to participate. This year, Lauren Steffel ’04 will perform in the role of Dew Drop. The production also features the New Haven Symphony and the Elm City Girls’ Choir.
Otto said excitement about Christmas and the artistic elements of the show help to add to the show’s appeal.
“The music is wonderful, and it’s something the whole world hears,” Otto said.
The Yale Concert Band and the Yale Jazz Ensemble will collaborate on Dec. 6 to present “Side by Side — The Nutcracker Swings.”
The two groups will alternate movements between the Tchaikovsky “Nutcracker Suite,” as arranged for concert band by Mayhew L. Lake, and the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn arrangement for jazz band. Ellington adapted and renamed the movements in an American big band style, renaming the traditional Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy, Sugar Rum Cherry.
“Ellington took the themes and basically swung them up,” said Michael Casserly ’05, who is a member of both groups.
The show will be at Woolsey Hall and tickets will be $8 for students and $12 for general admission.
“Its one of the seminal works for Jazz ensemble,” said David Bradenburg, Music Director for the ensemble. “It’s lots of fun, and also educational for the audience.