Anyone who has missed watching the annual Nutcracker ballet for the past 26 years will get a chance this December for the 27th year of production. The ballet will be the classic story people have grown to love, but a few new additions are hoping to enhance the experience this year.

“Last year we choreographed an entire new Nutcracker … it was fun and working with the students was excellent,” said Carolyn Hanna the Nutcracker director, TJC Academy of Dance Director, and Dance Professor.

A new dragon and addition of a Mrs. Rat King to choreograph into the ballet are new pieces audiences can look forward to.

“I think it’s going to be really cute and funny — give people something else besides the same thing over and over every year,” said Thereza Bryce-Cotes, assistant director and Ballet Mistress for the ballet.

The dance department has about three months (10 rehearsals) between auditions and the performance to organize and choreograph everybody. The school does not sponsor the ballet, so all of the fundraising and advertising comes from the hard work of the dance academy at TJC.

Since the ballet continues its performance every year, it has become a cultural event for the city of Tyler.

“I think it’s really turned out to be a family tradition, and we get such a great, nice audience … people have been seeing it for 27 years,” said Hanna.

Many of the dancers who perform come back multiple years in a row to perform again and to see the show. The wide mix of dancers range from ages 6 to 60, from professional to community dancers. However, with over 100 dancers involved, organization and scheduling can become very hectic.

“Our rehearsals are always overlapping because we have to keep using our same dancers that know how to dance to do all these parts,” said Bryce-Cotes “Some of these dancers can make it look so easy that people really don’t know what goes into it.”

Some of the seasoned dancers have six parts each. Dedication becomes a requirement of all the cast working every weekend until show week and even after hours when the Ornelas Health Physical Education closes.

“Some of these kids are rehearsing six hours a day and they love it, and that passion really rubs off on us too,” said Hanna.

Overall, the numerous hours of practice and new additions are all in hope to continue an entertaining tradition for the city.

“So it’s just really good for the entire family. Little kids can come and see the dancers and the costumes. The older ones can see the progression of the movement and music, and it’s so fun and you know there’s really something for everybody,” said Hanna.

The ballet will be performed Dec. 4 at 7:00 p.m., Dec. 5 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., and Dec. 6 at 2:00 p.m. Located at the TJC Wise Auditorium. Tickets go on sale Nov. 7 at the Financial Aid office in the White Administration building, and online at http://nutcrackertjc.eventbrite.com. For more information on the event, go to http://www.tjc.edu/nutcracker.

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