Columbia City Ballet brings ‘Nutcracker’ to Charleston
’Tis the season when the beloved ballet classic “The Nutcracker” comes to stages all over the country, and there is no shortage of ways to participate in this yuletide favorite here in the Lowcountry.
If you go
What: Presented by Columbia City Ballet
When, WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Friday at North Charleston Performing Arts Center; 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at Sottile Theatre, 44 George St.
More Info: 799-7605 or www.columbiacityballet.com/special-events-tours
’Twas the Night Before Nutcracker’
What: Presented by CBT Center for Dance Education
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Sottile Theatre, 44 George St.
MORE INFO: 737-0698 or www.charlestonballettheatreschool.org
WHAT: Presented by the Mount Pleasant Performing Arts Company
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Dec. 8
WHERE: Lightsey Chapel Auditorium, Charleston Southern University, 9200 University Blvd., North Charleston
COST: $15 advance, $18 at the door
MORE INFO: 971-7880 or www.mpspa.com
Charleston Dance Festival
What: Showcase features local and regional groups performing holiday selections, including excerpts from “The Nutcracker”
WHEN: 6-10 p.m. Dec. 14
WHERE: Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain St.
MORE INFO: 637-4722 or www.charlestondancefestival.com
‘The Great Russian Nutcracker’
What: Presented by Moscow Ballet
WHEN: 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 26
WHERE: North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive
COST: $39-$271 (groups of 10 or more receive discounts by calling 800-320-1733)
MORE INFO: http://pac-sc.com or 800-745-3000
But for the first time in 37 years, local audiences will not experience the annual full-scale presentation by the Charleston Ballet Theatre. The professional performance company ceased operations this past year.
But don’t fear. This season there are no less than four productions of this holiday classic, plus a show that includes excerpts.
This year’s newcomer, the Columbia City Ballet, promises an elaborate rendition of the more than 100-year-old classic with Olympic ribbon, spinning candy canes, a fiery Argentine Tango, 40 local young ballerinas, special effects and the always awe-inspiring snow scene.
In 1983, when he was dancing, Artistic Director William Starrett was named the ultimate Nutcracker prince by Dance Magazine.
The dissolution of the Charleston Ballet Theatre left a void, recognized by Starrett as a “magical opportunity” to step in and include Charleston in their busy season. The company tours all over the state, and pays a visit to Savannah, too.
“It is the obligation of a community to support the arts in their hometown and it is sad to see how vulnerable arts organizations are,” Starrett said. “The closing of CBT was an eye-opener for a lot of us involved in the arts.”
For this full-scale version of the yuletide standard, Starrett has drawn from his experience.
“I brought all of my favorite moments to our current ‘Nutcracker’ production that I experienced with all of the terrific productions I have been a part of all over the world,” he said in a statement. “Now, with 45 years of ‘Nutcracker’ experience, fully enriched and charmed by the Deep South, I’ve tailored a production that has Southern charm.”
Columbia City Ballet’s production is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at North Charleston Performing Arts Center and 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Sottile Theatre. Tickets are $25-$55.
Katie Smoake, who dances the role of Clara, said the production is full of beautiful dancing and never has a dull moment.
Getting young people to see what is usually their first ballet is half the battle, the other part is to keep them coming back to support dance throughout their lives, she said.
A dancer’s greatest reward is to “see the awe in the young children’s eyes,” Smoake said.
“In such a digital age, I think it’s really powerful to see a live performance at the theater. You can see it on the children’s faces after the show, and the magic is still there. I believe that’s why the ballet has been around for so many years.”
Columbia City Ballet plans to return in the spring with its “Alice in Wonderland,” marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece. In October, the company performed “Dracula” in Charleston, signaling its intention to spend more time here.
Other “Nutcracker” productions are planned for local audiences:
On Friday at the Sottile Theatre, the CBT Center for Dance Education, the school once affiliated with the Charleston Ballet Theatre’s performance company, will present “Twas the Night Before the Nutcracker.”
On Dec. 7 and 8, the Mount Pleasant Performing Arts Company will present the classic ballet at Lightsey Chapel Auditorium, Charleston Southern University.
Later this month, the Charleston Dance Festival showcase will include local and regional groups performing excerpts from “The Nutcracker” (among other holiday pieces).
And the Moscow Ballet will present two performances of “The Great Russian Nutcracker,” featuring 40 dancers and the usual Christmas cheer.