Continuing to help anchor The Grand Theatre’s holiday programming, “The Nutcracker” and “The Nativity” will grace the stage once again next month. While one will offer a secular tale and the other will feature a biblical-based storyline, both ballets will highlight the magic of the Christmas season through a young girl’s eyes.
Under the direction of Terri Kayser, the Cartersville City Ballet will present a traditional version of “The Nutcracker.” Performed locally since the late 1980s, the ballet will be held Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 5 at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 6 at 3 p.m.
“It’s the story of a young girl, Clara, and her uncle, Herr Drosselmeyer, and they’re at a holiday party. He’s considered a bit of an eccentric gentleman,” Kayser said. “So he brings in all kinds of wonderful life-sized dolls that dance for the people at the party. Then he also brings Clara a very special gift — the nutcracker. So as the story unfolds, when ... it’s time for [Clara] to go to bed, this is where the magic begins.
“The magic spell occurs, and Drosselmeyer conjures up, in our story, a Mouse Queen and mice, and they’re very mischievous. So her handsome Nutcracker Prince, who is still a nutcracker doll, comes to life along with his toy soldiers and defeats the Mouse Queen. ... [Then] Drosselmeyer creates another magical moment in which the doll, the nutcracker, becomes a young, handsome prince. He takes Clara to the Land of the Sweets, where many of the different individuals that live in the Land of the Sweets dance in her honor.”
Even though the story of “The Nutcracker” is more than 100 years old, Kayser said the ballet continues to connect with audiences year after year.
“It’s a little bit of a story of magic or make-believe, and it’s left up to the audience to decide whether this truly happened or if it was a dream,” she said. “... I do think that good things happen in this story. In the holiday season, it’s definitely a time when we’re getting together with family and friends. It’s a happy time. So I feel like this particular ballet very much leaves anyone that comes to see it with a sense of happiness and goodness.”
While the ballet will showcase the talents of at least 80 performers, some of its lead roles will be Clara — Olivia Howren and Grace Hamner; The Nutcracker Prince — Calvin Hayes and Jacob Johnson; Drosselmeyer — Dr. Allen Weirick; Mouse Queen — Maddie Connell, Maggie Fields and Mary Wiley; Dew Drop Fairy — Katie Guyton and Christen Knight; and Sugar Plum Fairy — Chelsie Culp and Margot Harris.
“Several of the pieces in the ballet are very long and very strenuous in aerobics, such as Waltz of the Snowflakes and Waltz of the Flowers, so we actually began [rehearsing] those pieces of choreography in August,” Kayser said. “... Probably about a month and a half ago, we started the big party scene, which is how the ballet opens. So it’s just a layering process, and we definitely spend a lot of hours weekly working on this particular ballet.
“For me, [the opening night] is magical. No matter how many years we’ve done this or how many times I’ve seen it, it’s very exciting to me just to see how the ballet comes together, and how much the performers enjoy themselves and how much joy they bring to the audience. And the music is beautiful — Tchaikovsky wrote beautiful music.”
Tickets for “The Nutcracker” are $18 for adults and $14 for students and children through age 18.
Through its presentation of “The Nativity,” the Steps of Faith Dance Company will emphasize “the real meaning” of the Christmas holiday.
“The overall message is the Christmas message that Jesus is born,” Steps of Faith Artistic Director Julie Reeves said. “The plot has to do with a little girl named Holly who thinks that Christmas is all about her parties and getting dressed up and getting presents. But then [she] realizes pretty quickly that there’s a lot more to the story than that, and by the end of the story understands the real meaning of Christmas is not about herself.
“I hope [the audience learns] the importance of the message of Jesus, and what he means to all of us, and also just to get inspired to give more and not to worry about what they received so much right before the Christmas holidays.”
Written and choreographed by Steps of Faith staff, “The Nativity” will be performed Dec. 19 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Dec. 20 at 3 p.m.
Encompassing about 120 dancers and 12 actors, the ballet’s lead roles will include Mary — Johanna Maserjian, Alexa Knight and Kolie Gilliam; Holly — Precious Luna and Charity Williams; and Joseph — Sean Steigerwald, a professional dancer from the Georgia Ballet. Other soloist roles will be performed by Elizabeth Ellington, Hannah Miller, Clara Nash, Sydney Vaughan, Lily Simpson, Hannah Arents and Shannon Champion.
Providing a fresh look for this year’s production, Steps of Faith will provide new sets as well as updates to some of the ballet’s costumes and choreography.
“As the girls change [and] as our staff changes, you want to keep it fresh and give everyone the opportunity to put their mark on it,” Reeves said. “Plus, it gives the audience something to look forward to each year, something maybe a little bit different, but at the same time the message is still the same. The story is still the same.”
Tickets for “The Nativity” cost $15 for adults and $12 for students and children.
For more information or to obtain tickets for the upcoming ballets, individuals need to visit http://thegrandtheatre.org, call 770-386-7343 or drop by The Grand Theatre Ticket Office, 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville, Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m. and 12:30 to 5 p.m.