Originally created 12/03/99

Plum role in ballet cherished

It's the fantasy role for any little girl who has ever donned a tutu and pirouetted in front of her mirror -- The Nutcracker's Sugar Plum Fairy. Even Barbie has a collector's edition with her in a tea-length frothy pink tutu and pink toe shoes.

"When I was little, I grew up doing The Nutcracker. That was my dream. Now, the more I know, the more I grow to enjoy it," said Jacquelyn P. McKinney, one of three Augusta Ballet dancers who alternate the role in 18 performances over two weeks.

Although The Nutcracker opens to the public at 8 p.m. today, the Augusta Ballet has already performed the second act six times for schoolchildren, with the final school show today. The school shows were sold out in September, said Zanne Colton, artistic director of the Augusta Ballet.

Because it's a popular holiday attraction, the Augusta Ballet has added an additional weekend of performances, increasing the number of public showings from five to 11.

The dancers don't mind the additional workload.

"Even over other ballets, The Nutcracker is my favorite ballet," said dancer Tammy Adams, who also plays the Sugar Plum Fairy. "I never get tired of it."

The Nutcracker ballet is based on E.T.A. Hoffman's book The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. In 1891, legendary choreographer Marius Petipa commissioned Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky to write the music for the Nutcracker Ballet. In 1892, the first public performance of The Nutcracker took place at the Mariinsky Theatre of Russia, home of the Kirov Ballet.

The story is about a little girl, Clara, who gets a nutcracker doll at a Christmas party. Her jealous brother, Fritz, promptly breaks it. Clara is heartbroken. After the guests leave, Clara falls asleep with the doll and dreams of a magical world of sweets. There she watches a wondrous celebration of dances, climaxing with the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier classic pas de deux.

The cast of The Nutcracker includes about 70 children who are students at the Augusta Ballet School. These children have been rehearsing since early October to fill the roles of toy soldiers, party children, angels, sheep and polichinelles. Ms. Adams said the excitement of the upcoming holiday and the production adds to the spirit of it all.

The Nutcracker will be staged at 8 p.m., today, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 10, and at 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, Saturday, Dec. 11 and Sunday, Dec. 12. Tickets for the performances range from $8 to $33 and are available by calling the Augusta Ballet at 261-0555

On stage

What:The Nutcracker, presented by the Augusta Ballet

When:8 p.m. today, Thursday, and Friday, Dec. 10; and 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and Saturday, Dec. 11, and Sunday, Dec. 12

Where:Imperial Theatre, 745 Broad St.

Admission:$8 to $33


Reach Charmain Brackett at (803) 441-6927 or czbrackett@hotmail.com.


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