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On Stage: The Charleston Ballet and WVSO team up to present "The Nutcracker"

The Charleston Ballet and West Virginia Symphony Orchestra present "The Nutcracker" (Courtesy WVSO)

It's a yearly holiday celebration enjoyed all around the world, but in the Mountain State we have our own special version. It's time once again for a holiday journey into a land of magic, music and mystery.

The Charleston Ballet and West Virginia Symphony Orchestra are teaming up to present the classic story of "The Nutcracker."

"It's really something," Brigette Madden (Clara) said. "This is my seventh time doing Clara, so I got to do this from the time I was like, 14 on. So I pretty much grew up with it. It's just as magical every year."

"I've been doing 'Nutcracker' since I was like, 14 too," Hayden Slaff (Nutcracker Prince) said. "But I've been doing different productions every single year. So, it's always nice to come in and do a new production, a new part, with a new stage, new cast."

More than 170 artists bring swirling snowflakes, dancing mice, waltzing flowers and toy soldiers to life while the symphony's musicians provide Tchaikovsky's immortal soundtrack. It's a collaboration of majestic sights and sounds which have been thrilling audiences worldwide since the show made its Russian debut in 1892.

"People have been bringing kids," Freddie Fourie (Drosselmeyer) said. "They remember coming to see 'The Nutcracker' and now they're bringing their children. It's just part of Christmas time. It's kind of like turkey at Thanksgiving. You can have it every year, it never gets old. It's part of the holiday season."

The story follows a young girl and a magical nutcracker who transforms into a handsome prince. They battle the Mouse King and his minions, travel through a snow-swept pine forest and eventually find themselves in the Land Of Sweets ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy.

But the narrative has always played second fiddle to the music and the movement as performers ranging in age from children to adults create a fantasy world which has become one of our most beloved Christmas traditions.

"We've watched the little girls grow up and develop as ballerinas and we feel like we're a part of that," Karen Brinkley (Ensemble) said. "We've had a couple of the little girls come up to us yesterday, so excited because their 'parents' were back."

"This is kind of the center of our ballet universe, so to speak," Chris Brinkley (Ensemble) said. "There's a great sense of community, particularly with the folks in this company."

The Charleston Balley and West Virginia Symphony Orchestra present "The Nutcracker"
Clay Center Maier Performance Hall
Friday, December 8, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $24 for adults and $12 for children 11 and under
Tickets available through the Clay Center Box Office: 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.org

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