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Huntington Dance Theatre to present annual performance of ‘The Nutcracker’

The Parthenon

Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 23:12

A holiday tradition 32 years in the making aims to delight hundreds as the Huntington Dance Theatre takes the stage of the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse to present “The Nutcracker” this weekend.  Guests young and old can enjoy performances Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Huntington Dance Theatre first produced “The Nutcracker” in 1981, making it the company’s longest running show. The Christmas story, popular the world over, narrates, through ballet, a series of dreamy adventures in a winter wonderland where a young girl, “Clara,” and her new gift, a handsome Nutcracker, encounter dancing snowflakes, gingersnaps, fairies and much more.

“‘The Nutcracker’ is a great family show,” Anna Lafferre, HDT director, said.  “Kids as young as 3 can sit through it and not get bored. The story is simple to understand, the music is well-known and the costumes and sets are bright and colorful.”

The cast of nearly 90 will showcase talented dancers as young as 4 alongside seasoned seniors, all of whom began rehearsals in late August, according to Laferre.

To prepare, many dancers attend classes three times a week in addition to three to six hour rehearsals every Sunday. Production culminates in a week of five-hour nightly rehearsals within the performing arts center where everything is finally set, staged and polished.

“Earlier in the fall, I’d say I spend about 20-25 hours a week on HDT-related things,” Lafferre said. “Closer to the show, I’d say I spend a good 35-40 hours a week on HDT-things.“
Truly a labor of love, this work is all done outside of Lafferre’s day job as managing editor with Huntington Quarterly magazine. HDT is a non-profit and most of the teaching staff, Lafferre included, is volunteers.  The HDT family relies very heavily on parent volunteers as well.  But in the end, she feels it is well worth the effort.

“To be blunt: putting on ‘The Nutcracker’ is the most exhausting, rewarding, stressful, anxiety-filled, beautiful, scary, magical experience of my year,” Laffere said. “It is hard, hard, hard, hard work. The trick to ballet is making that
hard work look effortless to the audience.”

To experience the phenomenon firsthand, those interested may purchase tickets at the door or beforehand through the Marshall University Box Office. Tickets are $20 for adults, and $15 for Marshall students, seniors and children 12 and under.

Britany Miller can be contacted at miller433@marshall.edu.

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