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Wichita dance firms love custom of The Nutcracker

There are some vacation traditions which are handled with a groan, an eyeroll and the whispered utterance of “Not this once more!”

After which there’s “The Nutcracker.”

The traditional vacation fairy story ballet, which debuted 130 years in the past this Christmas, is greeted with open arms by the three Wichita dance firms that are staging it this season.

“I take a look at it as an unbelievable pleasure to get to do it yearly,” mentioned Jill Landrith, whose Metropolitan Ballet performs the piece this weekend at Century II live performance corridor. “Having participated in a long time price of ‘Nutcrackers’ I nonetheless look ahead to it yearly – the rehearsal course of, the entire side of attending to work with the dancers, attending to create, seeing what they do with the creation. It is at all times thrilling.”

Jana Owen from Dance Mechanix mentioned that her performers, most of whom vary in age from 6 to 18, like returning to “Nutcracker” and advancing in roles as they become older.

“There’s one thing about custom and repetition that feels good to ballet dancers,” she mentioned. “Yearly it feels regular for us to have that repetition. Yearly you see dancers go from being a mouse to being a gingerbread cookie to a sweet cane to snow court docket to Sugar Plum Fairy, it is rewarding for them and it is rewarding for us as lecturers — and a brilliant neat expertise for fogeys.”

David Justin, inventive director of Ballet Wichita, mentioned the repetition is welcome for the viewers in addition to the dancers.

“Like all good artwork, it is good to see it greater than as soon as,” he mentioned. “What number of occasions have you ever seen an image of the Mona Lisa, proper?”

Metropolitan Ballet’s “Nutcracker” will embody visitor performances by Ingrid Silva and Dylan Santos from the Dance Theater of Harlem because the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier.

Landrith is directing 73 dancers in largely new choreography.

“I wish to choreograph and create on the dancers I’ve in entrance of me,” she mentioned. “Some issues keep the identical, however I wish to problem my dancers as nicely and provides them one thing to work on.”

Landrith mentioned she considers Metropolitan’s a standard manufacturing.

“We use dancers from everywhere in the group, which supplies us great power,” she mentioned.

Jana Owen from Dance Mechanix mentioned that her performers, most of whom vary in age from 6 to 18, like returning to “Nutcracker” and advancing in roles as they become older. Courtesy of Dance Mechanix

Midwest Dance Mechanix, which started in 2010, goes the alternative route in its fourth “Brief and Suite Nutcracker.”

Owen mentioned the abbreviated model runs 60-75 minutes, together with an intermission.

“It’s the entire character elements, the entire present and waltz and sweet and people kinds of issues, however it’s actually meant for individuals who are youthful or younger at coronary heart,” she mentioned. “We notice typically going for 2, 2 ½ hours for youthful people who find themselves beginning to attend exhibits might be a very long time. Ideally this might be a very good match for a variety of ages.”

The manufacturing is sandwiched between actions together with a go to from Santa, a candy store that includes native bakeries, and an opportunity to embellish pointe footwear.

The scholars within the manufacturing are “studying and rising,” Owen mentioned, and out to offer an improved efficiency annually.

“Even if you happen to’re coming yr after yr, you are still getting a better and better high quality expertise yearly,” she mentioned. “They’re studying and rising and we love that that is a part of their vacation custom and their coaching.”

Justin labored with Ballet Wichita as a visitor artist final yr, and the corporate favored him a lot that he was employed in February as inventive director.

“The expertise was so optimistic. It was such an important group, and the board of administrators was actually supportive,” mentioned Justin, who has already staged a brand new model of “Tom Sawyer” for ballet within the park this summer time and is staging “Midsummer Night time’s Dream” on the Orpheum within the spring.

For the primary time since COVID, the coed matinees have returned, with 4,000 college students from USD 259 scheduled to see the efficiency.

A visitor artist from the New York Metropolis Ballet will likely be featured alongside the 105 dancers (representing 20 totally different dance faculties), performing with stay music from a 30-person orchestra.

A former principal dancer with the Birmingham Royal Ballet in England, in addition to a soloist with firms in Boston and San Francisco, Justin was most lately a 17-year tenured professor of dance on the College of Texas at Austin, and says he loves the inventive vibe of Wichita.

“I like how a lot power and assist there’s for the humanities and the way a lot contemporary power there’s within the arts,” he mentioned. “They are a actually nice group of people that wish to make a optimistic impression on the group as an entire. I am comfortable to affix them.”


When: 7 pm Saturday, Nov. 26 and a couple of pm Sunday, Nov. 27

The place: Century II live performance corridor, 225 W. Douglas

Tickets: $15-$45, from


When: 6:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 2-3; 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3; 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4

The place: Wichita Heart for the Performing Arts, 9112 E. Central

Tickets: $25 for ages 17 and older, $15 for youth, from


When: 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 16-17; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18

The place: Century II live performance corridor, 225 W. Douglas

Tickets: $25-$55, from


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