Originally created 11/10/05

'New Nutcracker' dances get more twists



Although it's a classic ballet that's been performed for generations, The Nutcracker has a new twist with the Augusta Dance Theatre.

"It's stimulating to do something new," said Ron Jones, an artistic director for the company of young adult and child dancers, which will present The New Nutcracker at the Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre at Augusta State University.

Mr. Jones, who danced with the Atlanta Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet during his career, said he often has heard dancers complain about the traditional Christmas ballet.

"They dreaded Nutcracker," he said. "They were so used to doing the same version."

This year, he's changed the choreography in the ballet, which is about a young girl named Clara who receives a nutcracker doll at a Christmas party. Afterward, she falls asleep.

During a dream, she is saved from the Mouse King and his mice by the nutcracker doll. Snow begins to fall after the battle, and Clara is taken on the wings of angels to the land of the sweets, where she is met by the Sugar Plum Fairy and a variety of confections from around the world.

One of the dances Mr. Jones changed was the Arabian dance. Last year, the piece featured an Arabian princess and sultan with the female dancer being the central focus.

The music evokes a sensual and sultry feel, and some people felt the dance was a little too provocative for the young dancers. Mr. Jones responded by creating a tongue-in-cheek dance with one sultan and about a half-dozen harem girls.

At first, all the girls want to dance with him, but by the dance's end, they have shunned him.

"It's different from anything I've ever seen before," said George Doss, a 2005 John S. Davidson Fine Arts School graduate and Augusta State University student. "It's usually just two people."

Other new choreography is in the Spanish dance, which also features more dancers than in the past, and the snow waltz, featuring four couples in the lead of the ensemble.

"Snow is really exciting," said Helen Hill, a Thomson High School junior. "It gives more people an opportunity to do partnering."

There's also a new backdrop for the Land of Sweets.

The production features more than 100 dancers from across the area, including Augusta, North Augusta and Martinez.

For more information, call 860-1852.

Reach Charmain Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.

IF YOU GO

What: The Augusta Dance Theatre's The New Nutcracker

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19; 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20

Where: Augusta State University's Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre, 2500 Walton Way

Cost: $17 adults, $12 students, senior citizens

Phone: 860-1852



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