Huntsville Ballet Company celebrates its 50th Nutcracker

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Huntsville Ballet Company, accompanied by the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, is presenting "The Nutcracker" Dec. 7-9 at the Von Braun Center's Mark C. Smith Concert Hall.

“It’s been a lot of hard work, rehearsals…lots of rehearsals," said Ashley Jordan, who performs as the Sugar Plum Fairy. "But it’s been really fun this season.”

Set in the 1850s in Huntsville, this production of The Nutcracker has a traditional feel thanks to the historical sets and elaborate antebellum-style costumes, as the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra brings Tchaikovsky's score to life.

“When the curtain opens you can really imagine Huntsville in the 1850s," notes artistic director Phillip Otto. "The big antebellum dresses, the hoop skirts, the Erskine family, the Leroy Pope family. You really have to see it to appreciate the history.”

The ballet company's seamstresses work for months on the elaborate costumes, which are updated annually. Sets include a filmy front drop that depicts the Quietdale mansion that is located in northeast Huntsville.

Ambitious roles like the Sugar Plum Fairy require incredible stamina and control.

“It’s not just physical, it’s also emotional," Jordan said. "And you have to interact with the audience. You’re like the ruler of an entire kingdom, so you have to be confident.”

The company prepares for each performance with special "rituals," like the passing of a lucky penny that touches the hands of every performer before each show, and a prayer on stage with the whole company.

“I think Huntsville has to have a ballet company that they can be proud of and not have to go to Birmingham or Nashville to see professional ballet," Otto said. "They can see it right here in Huntsville.”

The Nutcracker performances will take place:

Friday, December 7 - 7:30pm
Saturday, December 8 - 2:00pm
Saturday, December 8 - 7:30pm
Sunday, December 9 - 1:00pm
Sunday, December 9 - 5:00pm*
(*Benefit Performance without HSO-$15/ticket)

Tickets are available at the Von Braun Center Box Office or online at Ticketmaster.com.