Loading...
Judge not lest ye be judged" is a foundation of faith. However, I have never met anyone who did not judge. Is it even...

'The Nutcracker': Performances share common thread of giving to the community

120817nutcracker
1 of 4

Dance Arts Theatre will present “The Nutcracker” this weekend at ECU’s Wright Auditorium.

120817nutcracker-6.jpg
Loading…

By Kim Grizzard

Friday, December 8, 2017

The life-size nutcracker soldier that appears to stand guard outside a rehearsal studio at the North Carolina Academy of Dance Arts is not alone this year. Behind him hangs a small cloth version, centered on a one-of-a-kind quilt commemorating the beloved ballet “The Nutcracker.”

Unlike the soldier, this keepsake is not destined to become a fixture at the studio. The quilt, which depicts in silhouette a dozen scenes from the ballet, will be raffled as a benefit for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Created by the grandmothers of two dancers, it is a fitting symbol of a production that for most of the last three decades has become part of the fabric of the community.

“The Nutcracker” will celebrate its 26th season this weekend with three performances in ECU’s Wright Auditorium. First staged by the nonprofit Dance Arts Theatre in 1985, the production has been an annual holiday event since 2001.

Since then, “The Nutcracker” has generated more than $165,000 for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through an endeavor that began before any of the students in this year’s production ever slipped their feet into a pair of ballet shoes.

“When you first start out (in “The Nutcracker”), it’s part of being in a bigger production with older girls and finally reaching that milestone,” said Marye Amanda McDaniel, a senior at Greenville Christian Academy who has been studying dance at NCDA for 15 years. “As you get older, you start to realize the benefits it has for the community and how you’re not just doing it for enjoyment, you’re doing it to help others.”

CMN Hospitals “Miracle Child” Piper Wilhide, 5, who was treated at the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital for cancer when she was 4 weeks old, will make a cameo appearance in Saturday’s matinee performance of “The Nutcracker.”

Featuring a cast of 125, including five guest performers, the popular Christmas ballet tells the story of a little girl whose beloved nutcracker soldier is transformed into a handsome prince who takes her on a magical journey.

“Every little girl, at some point in her little dance career, dreams of being in ‘The Nutcracker,” said Dance Arts Theatre Artistic Director Sherryl Tipton.

For Taylor Pinney, who has the part of Clara Silberhaus, that dream began the first time she saw “The Nutcracker.” She knew immediately that she wanted to be part of it.

“I think all of us have a list of parts that we want to be one day, starting out being a little kid on the staircase,” said Taylor, a South Central High School senior who has been studying dance for 15 years. “It’s crazy how one little part can get you hooked.”

Taylor is one of a handful of seniors who have been performing in Dance Arts Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” since they were old enough to audition. Children as young as second grade are cast as rosebuds in “Waltz of the Flowers” in the second act.

Arendell Parrott Academy senior Bobbie Leigh Barbour has a soft spot for that first role. Even after a decade has passed, she still remembers giving flowers to the character of Clara.

“That one thing was really exciting for me,” she said, laughing.

Bobbie Leigh will be featured in the Spanish dance, “Chocolate from Spain” in her final appearance in “The Nutcracker.” After 14 years of dance, she is sad to see it end.

“We’re just going to be lying on the floor in the dressing room crying (after Sunday’s performance),” she said. “It happens every year. People always cry.”

D.H. Conley High School senior Kirsten McMahon said Christmas will not be the same after she dances her final role in “The Nutcracker.” Her entire family is involved in the production. Sisters Kaylee and Sophia are both dancers. Their parents pitch in with props and costumes.

“Once I graduate, I’ll be the only one not doing ‘The Nutcracker,’” Kirsten said. “But hopefully I’ll have time next year to come and help.”

It is not uncommon for alumni to return for “The Nutcracker” long after they have taken their final bows as performers. Former dancers volunteer to help with quick changes backstage. Mothers of girls who danced in previous productions still stop by early in the season to help Production Manager Lisa Kannen sew costumes in what she jokingly calls her “sweat shop.”

“I think it’s so neat to see these moms just randomly show up,” Tipton said. “... It’s interesting to me how many kids come back just to be here because I think in their lives this had a special place.

“Former students that may have graduated from here, they’re probably in their 40s, bring their children to see ‘The Nutcracker.’ They drive from Wilmington or they’ll drive from Raleigh or different areas where they live to do that. It definitely is something that once you’ve done it, I think there’s always a connection.”

Dance Arts Theatre will present “The Nutcracker Ballet” at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at ECU’s Wright Auditorium. Net proceeds from this event will be donated to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to benefit the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center. Tickets are $35 for adults and $28 for children. Call 328-4788 or visit nutcrackerballetdat.com.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Look

June 24, 2019

St. Peter Catholic School teams recently finished among the top schools at the NC FIRST Lego League State Championships in Greensboro

Wiredcats Green team finished fifth out of 60 teams in the robot game, and the Wiredcats Blue team finished 14th. Wiredcats Green's score of 171 was the seventh…

021819rcpeter

June 24, 2019

Fifty years ago, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and the gaze of the world landed on the Moon.

Fifty years ago, that Moon was six feet closer to the Earth than it is today.

Every year, in fact, the Moon retreats from Earth by 1.5 inches, as a spinoff of gravity. Gravity pulls on both the Moon and…

moses

June 23, 2019

I know there will be some of you who will say, “Bob Garner ought to stick with exclaiming ‘Mmm-mmm’ over his food and stay the heck out of politics.”

Believe me, I get that, and generally I agree. One of the things I love about being a foodie is that food can often help…

Bob Garner.jpg

June 19, 2019

It is no secret that health care communication can be incredibly complex. This is especially so for patients who experience language and cultural barriers.

Luckily, there is a group of specially-trained Vidant Health Language Access Service interpreters who offer a voice to patients in-need, 24/7.…

5d08fa61e075c.image.jpg

June 19, 2019

Q I saw a story in a cooking magazine with the headline, “yes ultra-processed foods could be killing you.” What are ultra-processed foods and is that a true statement? CC, Winterville

A I have said in this column, in talks, when counseling patients and when feeding family and friends,…

Kolasa, Kathy

June 16, 2019

Even though I’ve spent a significant portion of my adult life working in TV, I was often too busy to actually watch much of it, or at least to pay much attention to the commercials.

Now that I’m semi-retired and am watching more television, mostly on cable news channels, I’m…

Bob Garner.jpg

June 14, 2019

In many ways, theater is like a spelling bee. Those preparing to take the stage spend weeks practicing and memorizing, hoping they won't get tripped up by a word when they get their moment in the spotlight.

Perhaps nowhere is this parallel more evident than in “The 25th Annual Putnam County…

bee

June 12, 2019

Q My doctor told me to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Can you give me any tips? MM, Winterville

A I hope your doctor gave your more information about your dietary goals since you won’t find that title in the diet manual used by health care professionals.

Most registered dietitian…

Kolasa, Kathy

June 12, 2019

One of my favorite summertime activities is attending cookouts. They have a myriad of tasty food from grilled meats, salads, desserts, and all the other fixings we associate with this event. One of my favorite things to serve at a cookout is seafood in any form from grilled, marinated to fried.

If…

The whiting sandwich from 42 Fry.

June 09, 2019

Having experienced deep depression firsthand, I now feel a sense of kinship with others who have struggled to overcome the same condition and still battle regularly to remain mentally healthy

As someone who’s in the public eye in a very minor way, it encourages me to know about far more…

Bob Garner.jpg
201 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 21
        Next Page»   Last Page»