M'Lanie Hunter Dance to perform Nutcracker Ballet Dec. 8 and 9

Meet Backstage Ballet Dancers

As Ballet Austin's "The Nutcracker" kicks off its 55th season on December 8, patrons will gather here to watch dancers bring a magical world of rat kings and sugar plum fairies to life.

This year, Columbia City Ballet celebrates its 50th anniversary of "The Nutcracker", making it the longest consecutively running performing arts event in SC.

Notable dancers: Community members Rick Wallace and Bruce Givan have performed as Drosselmeyer and the Mouse King for 20 years. His later work with Ballet Austin has incorporated increased innovation, such as in his choreography for "Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project", a human rights collaboration.

100 children make up the cast for The Nutcracker this year.

Mills said the biggest difference so far came four years ago, when they got new sets and costumes for the entire performance. Instead of making drastic changes each season, what makes every year unique is the dancers that portray each historic role.

"Zoë is a very charismatic performer and Snow is the first thing that we do on stage, so she's the first featured soloist", Howard said.

Here are details about each production, so viewers can decide which one (or both) they would like to see.

The Nutcracker Tea is $10.

Starrett attributes the show's popularity to touring, the holiday spirit, and the universal appeal of "Nutcracker".

"I was terrified, I was so nervous", Krumpe said.

"It takes a village to make it happen", Pierce said.

The company's commitment to accessibility is met through an extensive touring schedule, an innovative and highly effective education program including the much-lauded Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, Community Engagement programs and collaborations with myriad other visual and performing arts organizations.

"The first role they will do is as an angel", Mills said. And on Tuesday night, not for the first time, his Nutcracker was broadcast live to 500 cinemas around the world.

As the Snow Queen, Dienes, who is a sophomore (or fourth form student), opens the show as the featured dancer with a choreography that is 6:28 in length. She stumbles into the land of the Joymaker and the Magical Mimes.

"I personally am fascinated by the difficulty of the pointe performance and grace of the ballet dancers", said Ross.

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