“The Nutcracker” ballet has been an annual event at TJC for more than 22 years. Tryouts for their 23rd per- formance took place on Sept. 10, with much anticipation and excitement from those auditioning and directing.
“The Nutcracker” tradition at TJC dates back to 1988 when the Tyler Civic Ballet Company began stag- ing it to give its dancers more opportunities to perform.
“The Nutcracker” is about a young girl who receives a nutcracker soldier on Christmas Eve from her uncle who is a toymaker. The young girl falls asleep under the Christmas tree and when the clock strikes midnight, she dreams that all of her toys come to life. A symphony of sugarplums, snowflakes, nutcracker soldiers and mice fill her head as she dreams. The play ends as she awakens from her holiday fantasy.
TJC dancer, Sarah Nicholas said, “There is some- thing so magical about dancing in ‘The Nutcracker,’ as childish as that might sound. It’s like escaping into this different world filled with candy and sweets of Christmas time. ‘The Nutcracker’ is such a great classic for the holi– day season. No matter how many times you perform, it is still such an experience.”
Nicholas, a dance major, danced in “The Nutcracker” last year in multiple scenes. She auditioned for the same roles for this year’s production.
Assistant Director of “The Nutcracker” Beth Ben- nett has had quite the history with TJC’s production. Not only has she danced and choreographed in the program for more than five years, she was also an audience mem– ber the first few times that the ballet was performed at TJC. “When I was 11 years old, my mother was a dancer in ‘The Nutcracker.’ Both in 1990 and 1991, I remember sitting there and watching her perform,” Bennett said. Although “The Nutcracker” is a TJC event, the majority of the cast is actually from the community.
“This program is a great way for dancers of all ages to get involved. Many have never had serious dance train- ing and this program allows for them to get experience,” Nicholas said.
Many assume that only experienced dancers can be in “The Nutcracker.” Although many trained dancers are in the performance, it is not a requirement.
“The audition process does have limitations, however. If there are not enough roles for everyone who comes to the audition, cuts have to be made,” Bennett said. The cast is at an all-time high of 122 roles, ranging from young children to adults.
Even though TJC has staged “The Nutcracker” for many years, some students are not aware it takes place
here.”I was very surprised to hear that TJC puts on ‘The Nutcracker,'” said Adrienne Hurst, 39, who is in her second semester at TJC. “I have seen ‘The Nutcracker’ in Houston and absolutely loved it. I will definitely make it a point to be at TJC’s performance.”