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Celebrate holiday magic with GCSU’s Community Dance Program and The Nutcracker

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POSTED: November 27, 2007
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Celebrate holiday magic with GCSU’s Community Dance Program and The Nutcracker

large photo Celebrating 11 years of twirling and leaping into the hearts of Middle Georgia, this year’s production of “The Nutcracker Ballet” by Georgia College & State University’s Dance Program promises to leave even the grumpiest bah-humbugger with the holiday spirit.

Over the years, the production, sponsored by The Department of Continuing Education, has evolved from a smaller, more abridged offering, to the full-scale classic enjoyed by the community today.

From the first year to the current, Amelia Pelton, Director of GCSU Community Dance Program, and choreographer/director of this production, has been there watching, coordinating, and overseeing the sweeping changes which have taken place.

“We are so excited to be working on our eleventh production of this beloved classic,” Pelton said. “We will have all new choreography for the party scene, Dr. Mark Pelton returning as Drosselmeyer, GCSU’s Professor Tom Toney as the delightful Mother Ginger, the GCSU award-winning Cheerleaders as the Russians, gorgeous Arabian men and women, plus over 200 local community members and GCSU students.

Pelton notes that, as always, she looks forward to the return of “our favorite GCSU professor” Dr. Bob Wilson as the narrator.

For the first time in many years the ballet will not feature outside guest artists, but one of GCSU’s own accomplished dancers as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The beautiful and talented Jessica Gore, a senior from Augusta who is minoring in dance, will perform this challenging solo at the ballet’s conclusion.

Also featured in starring roles are Kaitlin Russ, a seventh grade student at GMC, as Clara; Thomas Pangia, a high school senior from Milledgeville, as the Prince; Christy Breyman, a GCSU student from Atlanta as the Snow Queen; and Stacey Hilliard of Athens, another GCSU student, as the Dew Drop Fairy.

Although having been a community affair for 11 years, “The Nutcracker Ballet” has a long history winding well over 100 years from being first preformed in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892, evolving to the holiday classic we all know and appreciate today.

As the most popular Christmas ballet around the world, the tale has become a favorite of children and adults, a story involving a young girl and her adored Christmas gift of a nutcracker.

However, after 11 years of this production in Milledgeville, Pelton said perhaps the most rewarding part is watching the journey of the dancers, which have grown over the years with the maturity of the dance program itself.

“We have gone from about 30 dancers, one set, and only excerpts during the first year, to the full production we will present this year. This includes multiple sets, 200 dancers and guest artists,” Pelton said. “It has been so rewarding to see the little mice and angels from the first few years to grow up and be the beautiful snowflake dancers and soloists that we have today.”

“The Nutcracker” will start at 7 p.m., Friday, December 7, and Saturday, December 8, in Russell Auditorium. Also, there will be a matinee performance at 2 p.m., Sunday, December 9, in Russell Auditorium. Admission is $10 for ages 12 and up, and $7 for children under 12 and GCSU students with a valid ID. There is no reserved seating. Purchase your tickets in advance after November 1 by calling (478) 445-5277 with your credit card, or stopping by the Continuing Education office at 103 Chappell Hall.

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For more information, contact Judy Bailey in University Communications at (478) 445-4477.