The holiday season will be extra sweet for Dallas Repertoire Ballet this year as they celebrate the 25th anniversary of their presentation of the beloved holiday classic, The Nutcracker, December 8-10, 2017 at the Eisemann Center in Richardson.
“Twenty-five years ago, Dallas Repertoire Ballet presented one act of The Nutcracker, which we called the “Nutcracker Sweet” on a small stage at the Richardson Civic Center,” said Kathy Willsey, director of Dallas Repertoire Ballet and its Allen-based affiliated school, Academy of Dance Arts. “As the years passed, the cast grew, the production value grew and we eventually expanded the production in 2002 to the complete two-act performance that audiences enjoy today.”
Audiences have joined Clara and her Nutcracker Prince year after year as they fight the Mouse King and his army, dance with snowflakes and meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier in the Kingdom of Sweets. “We pride ourselves on presenting a family-friendly production that is perfect for younger attention spans,” says Willsey. In addition to critically-acclaimed choreography and a cast of over 150 dancers, many of which are from their studio, Allen-based Academy of Dance Arts, Dallas Repertoire Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker features costumes that rival that of many professional dance companies
The Nutcracker: “sensory-friendly”
Something new and very special this 25th anniversary year is a “sensory-friendly performance” of The Nutcracker, which is scheduled for 2:00 pm on Saturday, December 9. This performance is specifically designed for children with sensory processing disorders like autism, Asperger syndrome, Down syndrome and other special needs. “We understand that dance and theater performances aren’t always accessible to children with special needs and we wanted to reach out to our community and give families who might not normally get to attend a production of The Nutcracker the chance to do so,” says Willsey.
The special performance will have discounted ticket prices and feature special adaptations designed to soften the sensory experience and increase accessibility for the whole family to enjoy together. “We are looking into creating a ‘social narrative’ for this audience to prepare children and their families for this experience,” says Willsey. “We want to create a special holiday memory that they will hold dear for many, many years.”
What to expect from the sensory-friendly experience:
- Assistance from volunteer students of Texas Women’s University Department of Occupational Therapy.
- Activity table (opens one hour before show-time)with fun crafts, and sensory board where you can touch, feel, and manipulate the props and costume material
- Meet and greet with some of the cast in the “Battle Scene” in the lobby 30 minutes before show-time to see their play swords, cannons, and guns
- A more relaxed performance that allows for the entrance and exit of individuals as needed. All audience members are released from the traditional expectations and demands of sitting still and staying silent. Anyone who needs a break from the performance can watch from the monitors in the lobby or go to the sensory room
- Service animals are welcome
- Additional wheelchair seating is available
- House lights are lifted a few levels so the theater is not totally dark
- Stage lights and sound levels are adjusted
- An interactive free zone is created to free space between the stage and the audience
- Snacks, toys, and items that help soothe and focus are allowed in the theater
Dallas Repertoire Ballet: A 25-year tradition
The past 25 years hold a lot of wonderful emotions for Willsey as well as her daughter and company director/studio co-owner, Megan Buckland. “Our former company members and studio alumni continue to attend The Nutcracker every December,” says Buckland. “Many of them have children who are now students at our school and are performing with us. It’s truly an honor to celebrate multiple generations of dancers from the same family in our production.”
Most company dancers and those from the pre-advanced, advanced, and pre-professional levels at Academy of Dance Arts take an average of 17-22 hours of dance instructional training a week. Preparing for The Nutcracker adds an additional 110 hours over a three month time period. Current students and Dallas Repertoire Ballet members look forward to auditions, rehearsals, and the pre-professional experience a full-length ballet affords them. Willsey and Buckland agree that this process from start to finish is an integral part of their dance education.
“The Nutcracker means Christmas to me,” exclaims Willsey. “The music, tradition, and family memories are ingrained in my heart. Its charm and nostalgia never get old.”
Dallas Repertoire Ballet presents, “The Nutcracker”
Friday, December 8, 2017 – 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 9, 2017 – 2:00 pm * (sensory-friendly performance)
& 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 10, 2017 – 2:00 pm
2351 Performance Drive
Richardson, TX 75082
For tickets call: 972-744-4650
For more information about Dallas Repertoire Ballet/Academy of Dance Arts, please visit www.danceada.com.