En Pointe

courtesy City Ballet

City Ballet’s Nutcracker turns 25

by Katherine Poole

For an aspiring young ballet dancer, performing in The Nutcracker might be a dream as vivid as the one Drosselmeyer conjures up for Clara. For the past 25 years, Raleigh’s City Ballet has made that dream come true for hundreds of area youth.

The North Raleigh dance studio’s rendition of The Nutcracker, this year Dec. 8 and 9, is an annual crescendo. Students from ages 7 to grown-up perform in a professional-caliber production: it is a full-length, artfully choreographed, skillfully staged version of the Tchaikovsky classic. On stage, the Christmas tree grows twenty feet, snow falls, and toy soldiers come to life.

It takes much more than a sprinkling of fairy dust to crack this nut. City Ballet’s instructors and staff rely on parents and volunteers to produce and rehearse the show. Auditions are held in early September and the cast of nearly 100 dancers intensely prepare right up to opening night.

Undeterred by the serious time commitment, the student dancers bring an infectious enthusiasm to the rehearsal process. Their enthusiasm is equalled come showtime when, to help bring the show to life, students are joined on stage by three guest artists from Carolina Ballet: Ashley Hathaway as the Sugarplum Fairy, Marcelo Martinez as the Cavalier, and Nikolai Smirnov as the Nutcracker Prince.

In the show’s familiar final act, the curtain closes on Clara and her dream is over. For the talented young dancers of The Nutcracker, the dream is just beginning. 

Friday Dec. 8, 7 p.m. and Saturday Dec. 9, 11 a.m and 3 p.m; $15 – $30; Stewart Theatre at N.C. State, 2610 Cates Ave.; city-ballet.com/tickets