Sara Swanson

Manchester Dancers to Perform in Chelsea Ballet’s Nutcracker this Weekend

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Ballet Chelsea will be putting on it’s 16th production of The Nutcracker, a full length ballet, on December 7th & 8th in Chelsea. Photo provided by Ballet Chelsea

Anna Cocco, a 4th grader at Klager Elementary, has only ever seen the Nutcracker Ballet performed live once, two years ago, but this year she will performing in it. Anna and about a half dozen other dancers from the Manchester area are dancing in Ballet Chelsea’s 16th annual production of The Nutcracker this weekend.

The production is a full length ballet set to music by Pyotor Ilych Tchaikovsky. This classic ballet was first performed 120 years ago and is, as Ballet Chelsea describes it, “the story of a young girl’s discovery of love, life and family through the gift of a magical nutcracker.” Ballet Chelsea’s version is traditional, from the Christmas Eve festivities at the Stahlbaums with godfather Drosselmeier to the Kingdom of Sweets, and includes well known songs such as the Sugar Plum Dance and Nutcracker March.

The cast of almost 90 includes dancers from AnnArbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Grass lake, Manchester, Pinckney, Saline, Ypsilanti, and Jackson. Their ages range from dancers who are 7, to experienced performers in their fifties. They have rehearsed every weekend beginning in September.

Rhonda Kendzicky, director of Dance Arts of Manchester, a dance school held Wednesdays in the Ackerson building in Manchester, serves as “Ballet Mistress” for Ballet Chelsea. She assists the artistic director Wendi DuBois with all the Nutcracker rehearsals and it is through her that some of the younger Nutcracker dancers from Manchester became involved.

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Anna Cocco, age 9, in her angel costume at a rehearsal for the upcoming Nutcracker production. Photo provided by Nancy Cocco

Anna has been taking dance classes for 5 years, since she was in kindergarten. She takes both ballet and jazz through Dance Arts of Manchester.  When she saw the Chelsea production two years ago, she thought it was amazing, so when Kendzicky invited some of the Manchester dancers to audition for the Nutcracker this year, she decided to try out for it. She and a friend both received parts as angels.

Anna likes the finale because everyone in the show is included but the best part of this experience for Anna has been being part of a large ballet production. She has met new people and gotten an opportunity to watch the older girls dance en pointe up close.  She plans to try out again next year!

The ballet will be performed 3 times: on Saturday December 7 at 2pm and 7pm, and on Sunday December 8 at 2pm. The production lasts about 2 hours with a 15 minute intermission. During the intermission of each show, gourmet chocolates & beverages will be for sale in the High School Commons, as well as the “Snow Shop” for browsing and Christmas shopping. Tickets are $18 ahead of time or $20 at the door (less for seniors and students) and are still available. Tickets can be purchased on-line by visiting balletchelsea.org or calling 734-475-3070.

Ballet Chelsea is holding a Sugar Plum Tea on Sunday, Dec 8 at 12:30pm prior to 2pm matinee. It’s held in the commons and features fancy desserts, live music and the dancers mingling in costume. It is a delightful event for parents to bring their children to and costs $12.

Although there are other Nutcrackers performed in the Manchester area, Chelsea Ballet has worked hard to set theirs apart by making theirs child-friendly. Their Director includes some humor and the show is completely narrated to help children (and parents) follow the story line. While many productions are all female, this production features a talented male dancer, graduating this spring to pursue a dance major, as well as male guest artists from EMU and Wayne State University

Ballet Chelsea was founded in 1995 and is a 501c3 nonprofit. It was originally known as Youth Dance Theater of Michigan and changed it’s name earlier this year. Every year it puts on two full length ballets, the Nutcracker in December and a different production in the spring. This spring it will be Don Quixote on April 26 & 27, 2014

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