GREENFIELD — A Rockette-style kick line and a parade of soldiers performing a tap routine are crowd favorites at the annual Nutcracker & Holiday Spectacular dance recital, says Debbie Wilkerson, owner and teacher at Wilkerson Dance.
And then there’s “The Nutcracker.” Tchaikovsky’s ballet about a young girl who receives the gift of a nutcracker that comes to life and takes her on a magical journey has become a traditional holiday production among many dance companies, including Wilkerson Dance.
Wilkerson added “The Nutcracker” to the holiday show 16 years ago when dance instructor Sheila Summers came to her with an idea for an abbreviated version of the show. Summers had performed in “The Nutcracker” while a dance student at Butler and had gone on tour with Butler’s production throughout the Midwest.
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As a ballet teacher at Wilkerson Dance, Summers always encouraged the ballet classes to do some Nutcracker recital pieces, but she said she felt that performing them out of the context of the entire ballet just wasn’t the same.
She went to Wilkerson with an idea for an abbreviated version of “The Nutcracker” that was just 30 minutes long. It included some of the more well-known sections of the ballet such as the Waltz of Snowflakes, the Waltz of the Flowers, the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Spanish Dance, the Chinese Dance, the Russian Dance and the battle between the Rat Queen and the Nutcracker Prince. Wilkerson agreed and turned the project over to Summers.
Summers admitted changing a master’s work is a risk.
“Tchaikovsky is probably rolling in his grave,” Summers said, “but it’s good to give the students some exposure to a classical ballet.”
“The Nutcracker” is a favorite among the dancers. The students who are beginners start out as mice in the program and then grow into the bigger parts as they progress through the different levels of ballet, Summers said.
According to Summers, it’s an audience favorite as well.
“The Nutcracker is a tradition. It connects with audiences, and it gives people another Christmas entertainment option,” Summers said.
If you go:
Wilkerson Dance presents “The Nutcracker and Holiday Spectacular”
2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Greenfield-Central High School
810 N. Broadway
Tickets are $10 at the door