Inspired by the dazzling melodies of famed Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the Macomb Ballet Company is once again bringing the enchanting tale of The Nutcracker to audiences at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts.
Set at Christmas and encompassing all the magic of this season, The Nutcracker ballet has become a holiday standard around the world and a rite of passage for many of the aspiring dancers of the Macomb Ballet Company (MBC), a pre-professional group in Macomb County.
Even as she prepares to dance the coveted role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, MBC member Sarah Bicknell remembers her first production of The Nutcracker.
“I was 11 or 12 and was a soldier and an angel,” the Sterling Heights resident said. “It was just in the core and it was a ton of fun. I’ve moved through all the levels now and it’s been fun to watch all of the girls grow together. It’s been a fun progression.”
Unlike some productions that hire professional dancers to play the principal roles, MBC casts its show with all of its own dancers, with the exception of the male lead (The Cavalier), which is played by Brandon Koepsell.
The company boasts a total of 65 members this season, with dancers ranging in age from 8 to 18. The addition of adult and child extras puts the total cast at around 85 people, said MBC Artistic Director Amber Megna Michalik.
“I think the group numbers are especially impressive this year,” Megna Michalik said. “Our company is much larger than in years past and to see so many dancers on the stage a time is really special. We have an incredible facility in the Macomb Center. It is truly a professional stage and atmosphere.”
Dancing the role of Clara for the second year, 17-year-old Hannah Budny of Clinton Township is preparing for a breathtaking, albeit bittersweet, performance.
“It might be my last show – pretty soon I’ll have to grow up and go to college – but it is such an amazing thing to be a part of,” Budny said. “It feels like a big family there. You learn so much but also have a great time. You usually get so emotional for the last show when we’re all about to run on stage to bow. We’re smiling so big trying to hide our tears.”
Gifted with a beautiful nutcracker from her godfather, Clara falls asleep beneath the tree on Christmas Eve, only to awake in a dream world with her Nutcracker Prince. Here she battles the fierce Mouse King and explores the lands of snow and sweets where snowflakes dance and the Sugar Plum Fairy reigns supreme.
Choreographed by Megna Michalik, and assistant directors Sarah Boik and Mary Sherman, the production runs Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
Performances are 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 30, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, located on the southwest corner of Hall Road and Garfield in Clinton Township.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.
For ticket information, visit the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts website or call the box office at 586-286-2222.
The Macomb Ballet Company uses Ann Parsley School of Dance as well as the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts to train and rehearse its dancers.