Nutcracker…One Month from Today!

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NBT’s The Nutcracker

As the sun beams through the large bay windows inside Studio A at 1417 Cornwall Avenue  in downtown Bellingham, everything from little pink mice to the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier rehearse to the familiar strains of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.  Every Saturday from now until December, that will be the scene until the opening weekend of performances by Northwest Ballet Theater.

‘Not only is it a huge holiday tradition that has been performed each December by our company for 15 years, at the same time it is our single most successful in revenue on an annual basis.  Therefore it is a substantial  part of what we do, not only in terms of what we offer the public-and what is expected of us from our community audiences,  but how we can sustain our entire season and to move forward ’ says NBT Artistic Director, and choreographer for this year’s production,  John Bishop.

NBT’s version of the holiday favorite will have offerings at Mount Baker Theatre, McIntyre Hall and Port Angeles Performing Art Center.  Dan Maguire,  Executive Director and promoter for The Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts in Port Angeles, contacted the company earlier this year to arrange to have the NBT’s Nutcracker performed at the 1100 seat Port Angeles PAC.  He had this to say about the collaboration.   ‘In a way, we are a very isolated rural community.  Therefore I believe it is pretty special when a town like ours can have something like this come through. We don’t have too many opportunities in a year to have high caliber organizations like NBT perform here.  For young people, seeing The Nutcracker can be a life changing experience in itself.  We are extremely excited that NBT auditioned 50 of our local dance students to perform with their company.  This makes the collaboration even more special and it will really bring the spirit of Christmas to Port Angeles this year. ‘To be invited by Mr. Maquire and JFFA is very gratifying to be acknowledged and given the exposure as a high-quality performing arts organization outside our home town’, says NBT Treasurer Dan Jordan.

‘Right now, we are performing on a regional level and are recognized as a regionally recognized ballet company” says Bishop.  General Manager Emily Webb adds, ‘People who are now supporting us understand that we are in the next stage of development.  NBT represents more than just ballet and entertainment.  It represents growth in the community.  Having a top-tier, and regionally recognized ballet company, reflects having a top-tier arts culture and city.  Generous donations from corporations and individuals will also reflect an atmosphere of investing in the place we all work and live.  NBT hopes to grow that support increasingly in the years to come.’

In June of 2015 the company will perform its season finale,  Sleeping Beauty,  June 6-7 at Mount Baker Theatre and June 13-14 at McIntyre Hall- NBT is on track to break two records during its 2014-15 run for most tickets sold in a single season and for most tickets sold for its annual staging of  The Nutcracker.  “Almost every ballet company in the country performs this perennial favorite, and in many ways, the quality of this one production is the perception of the quality of your company.”

Principal Guest Dancers Josh Deininger  and Shannon Behrens from Seattle will perform the famous Grand Pas de Deux, or dance duet, between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier,  part of the ballet’s second act, when the young heroine Clara is transported to The Kingdom of the Sweets.  Deininger notes, ‘This is my sixth appearance with NBT. Each one has a meaningful one for me and I am looking forward to performing the role of Cavalier for the second straight year with my lovely partner Shannon Behrens.’ Behrens,  who recently was married this summer is performing in her second ballet with NBT after performing the role of Mina in Bishop’s production of Dracula. Julia Schwartz, casted by Bishop to perform the role Clara, had this to say about dancing the part which is both technically as well as dramatically demanding. ‘I always dreamed of dancing Clara. What makes this year so special is not just getting the chance to be Clara, but to be on stage in Act I with my mom and dad(Greg and Miriam Schwartz) who play my parents in the ballet and my little sister Samantha who is one of Clara’s friends.’

NBT Board President Laura Niwranski sums up her involvement with the company this way. “Obviously,  ballet is a big part of the thriving arts community here in Bellingham, and the arts community is a very important part of what makes Bellingham such a great city. NBT’s Nutcracker is a family tradition here like in so many places and we are glad that we can take this to an even higher level of excellence and artistry, this year.”

Nutcracker Show Times/Venue/Ticket Info

Sat/Sun, Dec. 6 & 7,  7:30pm/2pm  @ Port Angeles Performing Arts Center   360-547-5511 or www.jffa.org

Sat/Sun, Dec. 13 & 14, 7:30pm/2pm , @ Mount Baker Theatre/ 734-6080 or www.mountbakertheatre.com
Sat/Sun, Dec. 20 & 21, 7:30pm/ 2pm  @ McIntyre Hall/ 416-7727 or www.mcintyrehall.org