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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

Highlands Ballet Company presents ‘The Nutcracker’

Clara with her Nutcracker from Highlands Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.”
Clara with her Nutcracker from Highlands Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.”
Additional photos below »

November 28, 2018

What is the magic of “The Nutcracker?” There is an eternal enchantment in Tchaikovsky’s music, which was written in 1891 for “The Nutcracker” ballet. For the audience member, it is just impossible not to respond to the delicate, swelling joy of “The Waltz of the Flowers,” or the “Land of Snow” that glistens like sunlight on frost. The Nutcracker speaks to our childlike sensibility taking us back to a time of innocence, a time with no worries, a time when Christmas was magical.

The first act, an ordered party at the Stahlbaum home, with the gleaming tree at the back of the stage, creates a heartwarming image of Christmas. The second act creates a fascinating dream world. “The Nutcracker” causes children to feel wonderment, and adults to feel like children again. Whether a family tradition or a once-in-a-lifetime visit, the experience of this classic ballet stays with you.

Mother-daughter duo Deanna Cole-Roberts and Deirdre Cole, directors of the Highlands Ballet Company, have more than 70 years combined experience, including dancing, directing or producing “The Nutcracker.” Cole-Roberts was in the first local full-length production as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the first to dance the role in the complete Grand Pas de duex. Cole followed suit dancing roles in “The Nutcracker,” like many children, as a Polichinelle.

“This production is truly a labor of love,” says Cole-Roberts. Cole adds, “No detail will be left undone from the tiniest mouse to the Sugar Plum Fairy. The costumes are lush, and all created especially for this production. In fact, seamstresses are quite busy to make everything just perfect. Set designs are being created with careful detail to bring to life the heart and magic of ‘The Nutcracker’ in the minds of those witnessing the art taking place before their very eyes.

“Almost every day of the week, dancers can be seen coming and going in the studio perfecting each and every plié and position. There isn’t a moment that these dancers aren’t preparing for the production while at the studio. In August, “The Land of Snow” was beginning to take shape as dancers began assembling to rehearse. Just watching the excitement on the dancers’ faces as they prepare for such a large-scale production shows the dedication and heart that will be evident in the final product brought to stage in December. From the youngest of dancers to the most senior, each one brings a unique perspective to the experience. It is simply amazing to watch the transformation of each dancer as the hours of rehearsals take root in their steps and the artistry of ‘The Nutcracker’ glides across and settles upon the stage like a blanket of new fallen snow,” Cole concludes.

Joining the HBC are dancers from New York City and Chattanooga along with numerous local artists.

Performances are Dec. 15 and 16 at 2:30 p.m. at McGlothlin Center for the Arts on the campus of Emory & Henry College, Emory, Virginia. A “Land of the Sweets” reception and boutique is held in the lobby during intermission.

Topics: Dance

Party scene from Highlands Ballet's "Nutcracker"

Clara with her Nutcracker from Highlands Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.”