Washington Ballet ushers in holidays with 'The Nutcracker'

A beloved classic with a local twist helps to usher in the holidays.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - A beloved classic with a local twist helps to usher in the holidays.

"The Nutcracker" as performed by the Washington Ballet kicks off a new season. From the sugar plums dancing in our heads to other moments of wonder in the show, it's quite a feat to pull off this time honored tradition. 

Come along for a two hour magical journey, where a little girl and her amazing saga on Christmas Eve transports audiences to Georgetown back in 1882. 

Clara and her Nutcracker got a reboot in 2004, when the company gave this 125-year-old ballet production a distinctly Washington feel. 

RELATED: Telling stories through ballet at Ashburn Academy of Dance

"In our company, you see our city. And that's very, very important to always have role models for your children in the audience," said Julie Kent, Artistic Director for The Washington Ballet.

"Yes, and up, that's better," said Kent, as she directs two of the professional dancers.

Potomac native, Kent, is putting her mark on this holiday staple and the ballet company itself. She took over the reigns of the company just over a year ago. A company, still housed in the home of the late founder Mary Day on Wisconsin Avenue in Northwest, D.C.

Kent, the former prima ballerina for the American Ballet Theater, hopes her new home will evolve and take huge leaps into the future.

"Trying to take an arts institution to a new level and grow it is a huge challenge."

But it's one, she relishes.

Growing the dancers, expanding their repertoire, and for now, working with them and the nearly 500 children who make up the Nutcracker cast to capture local lure and charm.

"They all have committed every single weekend - Saturday and Sunday - since October first, to learn their roles," said Kent. "It's a really beautiful thing to see."

The children perform alongside the professionals like Tamako Miyazaki and Andile Ndlovu. They come together for 33 shows between now and Christmas Day.

"Everyone in the company bonds together, because you're in the theater for so long," remarks Ndlovu. "In the beginning, it's so much fun!"

Fun and frenzy lead up to those first steps of the season on the Warner Theater stage.

The wardrobe team dyes more than 100 pairs of shoes for the run of show. And, the team does eight loads of laundry per show for the 210 costumes used in the production.

One of the costumes is for the Merry Widow, a walk-on role WUSA9 Anchor Lesli Foster will play for the December 10th matinee performance.

Lesli got a quick dance lesson from Kent about the flirty character she gets to play early in the show. Perhaps you'll get to see her!

There's a lot to look forward to when this fast paced production and perennial favorite sends the snow swirling and dancers twirling. It's a new season and a new day for this beautiful art form in D.C.

"It's very important to me that the ballet company in the nation's capital has a very specific distinction," said Kent. 

The Washington Ballet uses 5,000 pounds of dry ice every season for their shows. Plus, 21 gallons of paper and flame retardant snow. Thirty four sets of siblings will showcase their skills. And, one news anchor will try not to fall or miss her cue, for her theatrical debut. 

The Nutcracker opens on December 1st and runs through Christmas Day. For tickets to the show, go to washingtonballet.org

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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