‘The Nutcracker’ Enchants Performing Arts Centers Across the East End

A scene from The Hampton Ballet Theatre School’s production of "The Nutcracker," Photo: ©2017 Eric Striffler
A scene from The Hampton Ballet Theatre School’s production of "The Nutcracker," Photo: ©2017 Eric Striffler

In Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet The Nutcracker, a young girl named Clara goes on a magical journey with a wooden nutcracker carved into the shape of a soldier who transforms into a handsome prince. Together they fight off the mouse army, travel to the Land of Sweets, meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and leave on a beautiful sleigh to parts unknown. The ballet, adapted Alexandre Dumas’s “The Story of a Nutcracker” (itself adapted from the E.T.A. Hoffmann story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”), is one of the most widely performed ballets of all time and a holiday favorite. You don’t have to go on a long journey to experience The Nutcracker. There are productions throughout the East End, some traditional and others cleverly adapted and reworked.

Lila Gabbard, the 11-year-old local dancer who plays Clara in the Hampton Ballet Theatre School’s production, is excited for audiences to experience The Nutcracker.

School’s "The Nutcracker," Photo: Alex Phillips
Lila Gabbard in the Hampton Ballet Theatre
School’s “The Nutcracker,” Photo: Alex Phillips

What’s your favorite part of this show?
When Clara gets the nutcracker as a present from Drosselmeyer. Then Fritz tries to take it away and accidentally breaks it but with Drosselmeyer’s magical powers he brings the nutcracker to life!

What part of the Nutcracker story is definitely true?
The party scene, it’s true because the ballet takes place in the wintertime so they are having a Christmas party. At the Christmas party everyone is wearing their best gowns then the kids do a dance and after the kids dance, the parents dance—it’s a lot of fun!

What role do you hope to perform next year?
One role I hope to preform next year is snow. I think that it takes a lot of hard work to be in snow and the finished product is absolutely beautiful and I really want to be a part of such a wonderful thing.

What would you like to tell other kids before they see The Nutcracker for the first time?
It’s really an amazing ballet that has a lot of amazing dancers, and it’s a really fun story, and I hope they love it just as much as I do.

The Hampton Ballet Theatre School presents Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker at Guild Hall
December 7–9. Choreographed by Sara Jo Strickland, the Hampton Ballet Theatre School presents the 10th annual production of Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet. Featuring costumes by Yuka Silvera and lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski. 158 Main Street, East Hampton. 631-324-0806, guildhall.org

Other area productions include:

Studio 3 Presents Mixed Nuts: A Classic Holiday Nutcracker at Bay Street Theater
December 14–16. Classic stories intertwine via the Studio 3 Dance Center in Bridgehampton. 1 Bay Street, Sag Harbor. baystreet.org, dancestudio3.com

The Nutcracker at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center
December 15–16. Taught by Peconic Ballet Theatre teaching artists, dancers participate in weekly ballet classes and rehearsals, culminating in four performances of The Nutcracker. 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach. 631-288-1500, whbpac.org

Seiskaya Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Staller Center
December 20–23. The Seiskaya Ballet’s Nutcracker has become a perennial holiday favorite on Long Island. This year’s staging is again scheduled for six performances at the Staller Center. World-renowned Russian-born choreographer Valia Seiskaya choreographs this truly international collaboration. 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook. 631-632-2787, nutcrackerballet.com

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