Nutcracker Ballet returns to Bama Theatre

The Tuscaloosa Community Dancers will put on their annual holiday production of the Nutcracker opening tonight at 7 at the Bama Theatre.

The event will also be presented Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., Dec. 4 at 2 and 7 p.m., and Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $21 for adults, $17 for children and $12 for seniors. They can be purchased at the Bama Theatre box office or by calling 752-4220. The show will run about two hours with a 15-minute intermission.

Rebecca Tingle, artistic director for Tuscaloosa Community Dancers and owner/ co-director of Dance Centre, said TCD has been working to do two shows a year, with “The Nutcracker” in the winter and a spring production which is geared more toward younger children. Previous shows have included “Snow White,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

“The organization is very well-loved in this community,” Tingle said. “We have a lot of people that continue to serve this organization and to help participate. My business partner Melissa Verzino [co-director of Dance Centre] is a hugely important part of Nutcracker because when I’m not at work she’s covering for me, and she does that because she’s been dancing since she was three.”

The production will include two guest artists, professional dancers who will play the lead roles. This year those dancers are Allison Anich and Kyle Seguin, Tingle said.

“We feel like it’s part of our responsibility to the community to expose them to professional dancers,” Tingle said. “That’s what we’re trying to promote. We always hire two professionals, male and female, to come in and dance the leading roles in Nutcracker.”

They will continue bringing in professionals in order to expose their dancers to professionals as role models and to expose the community to the professional world of dance, she said.

Madison Leavelle, a sophomore majoring in dance and graphic design, said she plays the Nutcracker, a soldier doll in Act 1, and Mirliton in Act 2. She has been participating in performances of the Nutcracker with TCD for 11 years.

“It’s a great Christmas tradition,” Leavelle said. “I enjoy being a part of it. It’s weird for me if I didn’t do it because I’ve been doing it so long. It’s kind of like a part of me.”

The Alabama Ballet has been very supportive, and many members have helped choreograph and write productions for TCD, Tingle said.

“A lot of our teachers at the Dance Centre are involved in actually rehearsing certain sections of Nutcracker,” Tingle said. “It’s too big of a job for one person.”

Rachel Fowler, rehearsal coach for Tuscaloosa Community Dancers and a graduate student, said TCD is very family-oriented. Her job is to teach girls traditional parts of the Nutcracker.

Fowler said she has been involved with TCD for 12 years. She started out as a member when she was 12. Fowler is responsible for rehearsals of the battle scene where the Nutcracker and mouse king fight in Clara’s dream.

“I love the Nutcracker,” Fowler said. “It wouldn’t be the Christmas season without the Nutcracker, and the girls have put in so much work and time and effort, so it’s really such a joy to see it every year. I’m excited to be a part of it each year.”

There will also be a school show this year, Tingle said. Local students will be bused in for a reduced rate to see a shorter version of the production on Friday morning.

“Its just one of those traditions of Christmas,” Tingle said. “You can hardly make it through Christmas without seeing a production of Nutcracker. It’s such a magical, happy, feel-good kind of production.”

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