The Orangeburg Civic Ballet has been busy creating a classic production of Tchaikovsky’s "The Nutcracker." This year’s performances promise to fill everyone with the Christmas spirit.
Chorographers, dancers and other volunteers have been working around the clock to produce the best show possible.
Allison Bates, Orangeburg Civic Ballet’s artistic director, said, “Orangeburg Civic Ballet has worked very hard to be as professional as possible, from the lights, to the costumes and the dancers. It is very important that everyone knows that OCB is a professional-quality dance company.”
"The Nutcracker" will open with the scene of a beautiful living room decorated for the holiday. The maid, Charlotte Palmer, opens the show cleaning and preparing the room for its guests. When asked about her favorite part of the production, Palmer said, “Playing the maid has been my favorite part because I get to have the whole stage to myself as an independent role.”
Palmer is currently a principal dancer in OCB and a senior at Orangeburg Preparatory School. After the party is over and all of the families have gone, Clara, portrayed by Mikayla Rider, goes to rest under the great Christmas tree and begins to dream of her Nutcracker.
She was asked about her experience in the production of dance partnering, which is dancing performed by a pair of dancers, typically a male and a female, in which the pair strives to achieve a harmony of coordinated movements so that the audience remains unaware of the mechanics.
“It is like flying when being lifted into the air, but the first time I did it, it was scary,” Rider said.
Melanie Crone, also a senior and principal dancer, is performing the role of the Rat Queen.
“Since I have never been in 'The Nutcracker' or another story ballet, I have enjoyed playing a character that has an influence on the outcome of the story,” Crone said.
There is a great battle between the Toy Soldiers, led by The Nutcracker, and the giant rats that are ruled by the Rat Queen. After the battle, The Nutcracker takes Clara to visit all of the kingdoms.
The Nutcracker is played by 22-year-old Nick Martin, a first-time guest artist with OCB.
“Partnering has been very challenging because I have to learn my partner’s body placement and how they dance since every dancer is different," Martin said. "I have enjoyed playing The Nutcracker because I get to explore the character.”
The story ends with Clara waking up and realizing it was all a dream.
Everyone involved with the production has to pull their weight to make the performance a success regardless of what may happen on the journey there. A dancer was injured, unfortunately, and will not be able to perform in the production this year.
Tamalyn W. Blackman, founder and president of the OCB Board, said, “Orangeburg Civic Ballet is fortunate to have such talented dancers that they can step into another role at a moment's notice. The dancer does not only have to learn the part, but the other dancers around them have to adjust to them as well. The costumes also have to be remade to fit the replacement. Thankfully, our dedicated and extremely talented costume committee rises to the occasion.”
Those who replace the injured dancers are known as understudies. They are very important to the success of a performance.
Orangeburg Civic Ballet is a company that has been bringing all ages together to create magical shows to entertain audiences for 24 years. No matter how big or small the dancers' parts are, there is a challenge in it for all of the dancers.
Naomi McCutchen, 8, a first-year company member, said, “My favorite part is Jacks because I love doing the cartwheel. But then we have to do a split afterward, and that is very difficult for me.”
Don't miss the Orangeburg Civic Ballet's performances of "The Nutcracker" at the Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium on the South Carolina State University campus at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10. Tickets are available at Tamalyn’s Dance Centre and will also be available at the door. Tickets prices are $12 for adults and $8 for senior citizens 55 and older and children under 12.
For more information, call 803-533-0017 or visit the OCB online at www.orangeburgcivicballet.org.