UPDATE (11/30/18, 10:45 p.m.):
A Christmas classic returned to the Woodrow Wilson auditorium.
The Beckley Dance Theatre School had their opening performance of the Nutcracker, officially marking year number 29 for the local production.
The seasonal ballet draws in regulars who see it every year, like Mikeal and Allison Bates. For them, the Nutcracker is simply tradition.
“It puts you in the Christmas spirit,” Mikeal said. “It starts out the season right, like the right way to do it.”
“I see new people in it,” Allison said. “It’s so happy and jolly for me.”
The next performance is set for December 1 at 7 p.m.
No orchestral arrangement or ballet performance speaks Christmas better than the Nutcracker, a worldwide sensation since its debut in 1892.
For the last 29 years, the Woodrow Wilson Auditorium played host to Jerry Rose and his Beckley Dance Theatre School’s production of the holiday ballet, dazzling 150,000 audience members and counting.
“We’re carrying that [tradition] on in Beckley,” Rose said. “We are trying to arrange for our audiences to see something that is a legacy of history and fashion, and bring our audience back to childhood.”
However, with the ever-changing nature of the Christmas season, Rose said he believes the key to evolving the ballet while maintaining its traditional ties lies within the dancers themselves.
“The dancers are far more technically proficient and able to accomplish things that they could not do back in the 1800’s,” Rose said. “But each year, our dancers improve. They’re able to move around to different parts that are more technically demanding, so that gives a totally new look when a new personality becomes someone, a different character.”
The school’s artistic director categorizes this ballet as a nostalgic nod to the season and its serenity.
“This is an experience to last a lifetime,” Rose said. “All of the students, all of the audience realize that they had once memories of Christmases long ago. We take them back to that time again.”
Tickets are on sale at the school, which is located on Raleigh Avenue for $15 each. The first performance is set for Friday, November 30, 2018 at 7 p.m.