In 2008, nine years after Elizabeth Hester founded the Wilmington Ballet Company, one of the area’s most beloved productions opened during the holidays. The nonprofit dance company presented “The Nutcracker,” and featured hundreds of adult and youth dancers to bring to life Clara’s magical dream.
As part of the 2015 holiday dance, Wilmington Ballet Company will showcase its premier performance at the new Cape Fear Community College Fine Arts and Humanities Center this weekend only, Dec. 19 and 20 at 3 p.m. With it will be a slew of dancers from their new professional division.
“All of the lead dancers have trained at nationally recognized professional conservatories, professional companies, and/or prestigious ballet colleges,” Hester tells.
Guests artists from Atlanta Ballet and Carolina Ballet, as well as from the Washington Ballet, will join the Sugar Plum Fairies and Nutcracker Prince. Additional professionals, like Nick Sattore, Julian Stokes and Jeff Rie, will help perfect the art of partnership—specifically with the strength needed to hoist the graceful ballerinas.
“Julian is a hip-hop teacher,” Hester explains. “Nick and Jeff are fitness and body-building professionals. Having capable strong partners is a big challenge for most ballet companies and we have a unique solution.”
Thus the lifts and effects will be elevated, especially with pro dancers and community partners integrating their talents to put on the 2014 Best Production, according to encore readers. For example, the battle scene will feature sword team members from Ashley High School’s ROTC students. “It is a real combat scene,” Hester promises.
Plus, Pleasure Island Dance Company has joined and is choreographing an enchanting sea scene. New to the 2015 production will be costumes and set hangings, as well as performers bringing to life magnanimous aerial work.
“It is also truly a community event,” Hester tells. “There are over 400 dancers, artists, actors, gymnasts, martial artists, vocalists, and more involved in the production.”
The entertainment will begin before the show and continue during intermission. Techmoja Dance and Theatre Company will perform “Carolina Christmas” beforehand, an original production created by founder Kevin Lee-y Green, who is also a porfessional dancer for Wilmington Ballet Company.
“We added Kathy Snow Productions as a choir to the lobby,” Hester tells, “[and] photos with ballerinas.”
WWAY anchor McKenzi Henderson will sing with the Cape Fear Community College leading vocal students at intermission, which also will include a martial arts demonstration. “The bells and whistles will knock you off your feet this year!” Hester says.
This is Wilmington Ballet Company’s season opener of three major shows they hold throughout the year, including “Little Mermaid” and “Swan Lake.” All will take place at the Fine Arts and Humanities Center for the upcoming season. “To have paid serious professionals in a company locally is truly an historic achievement,” Hester tells.
The company also features apprentice members and local youth dancers, with over a dozen different organizations involved in the production. “The community element is huge,” Hester proudly says. “The CFCC art club is painting a mural live at the event. This is an important connection for our community.”
The amazing contemporary and classical technical skill showcased of so many great dancers will appeal to all ages and types of people, who are looking for a holiday performance. “It is truly a ballet for the whole family, from 3 to 103,” Hester says.
The show will feature hundreds of performers and multiple directors who have worked independently and together to merge the magic of each scene. “They manage their own groups with great precision and work as a team to make the whole program smooth,” Hester tells. “This year is heads and shoulders above what we performed last year. The technical capacity of the new CFCC theater lends itself to so many more effects.”
Though there will be no symphony backing the performance for 2015, Hester’s already looking toward the 2016 season to add it again. Tickets are on sale now for “The Nutcracker.”