PLATTSBURGH — The North Country Ballet Ensemble whips up “The Nutcracker” for the 28th season.
Magnificent makeovers of integral sections of the ballet are the vision of Alice Schonbek, in her second season as artistic director.
“I’ve been committed to enhancing this local classic to refresh it in many ways,” Schonbek wrote in an email.
“We’ve re-choreographed Act 1, Party and Battle scenes. Additionally, the NCBE has commissioned new choreography in Act 2 over the last two years to make it almost an entirely new act.”
New York City-based Rebecca Kelly of Rebecca Kelly Ballet is along again for the spectacular ride for year 15.
She has created a new “Spanish Variation” in the style of Spain’s Aragonian region.
“This year, our affiliate choreographer, Rebecca Kelly, and our guest choreographer, Michela Boschetto, have been back to the North County to work with our local, student-company members on Kelly’s ‘Spanish Variation,’ and Boschetto’s ‘Waltz of the Flowers,’” Schonbek wrote.
“Our resident choreographer, Terpsie Toon, has also added new touches to the Battle Scene and made a Soldier Victory Dance.”
Toon also created a new angels choreography.
“Along with that, we have new set pieces, including a wonderful new two-level grandfather clock to enhance the mystery and magic of Claire’s dream, and props and costumes fashioned not only by professional costumers but by talented cast members’ families,” Schonbek wrote.
This year’s cast of 75 local-student dancers and 12 community members will hold performances in Plattsburgh and Lake Placid.
It’s the eighth season for Therese Wendeler, principal dancer with Rebecca Kelly Ballet and Dances Patrelle. She returns to “The Nutcracker” to dance the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy, as well as the Queen of the North in Kelly’s Snow variation.
For Mikhail Ilyin, it’s the third time around in the role of Cavalier. Ilyin, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, danced with Miami City Ballet, Boston Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.
Plattsburgh resident Veda Bingel will dance the role of Claire.
The role of Fritz will be performed by Harvey Runyon of Lake Placid.
The magical Jason Borrie returns as Uncle Drosselmeyer.
The ensemble graduates two seniors, Jennifer Durfey of Tupper Lake and Samantha Johnson of Peru, this season.
Durfey will dance the roles of North Wind in the “Snow Scene,” Spanish, Arabian and Dew Drop in “Waltz of the Flowers.”
After a four-year hiatus, Johnson will perform as the Au Pair in the Party Scene in Act 1, as a soldier lieutenant in the Battle Scene and in the Russian Variation in Act 2.
SUNY Plattsburgh Theater Department’s Erika Guay will rig a wintry wonderland with her lighting design.
The show’s eye candy features new sets and props, which were designed and produced by community members.
“Todd Bissonette has provided us with outstanding performance photography,” Schonbek wrote.
“So all in all, there’s a great deal going on to keep audiences entertained and happy to come back again this year.”
Email Robin Caudell:firstname.lastname@example.orgIF YOU GO WHAT: The North Country Ballet Ensemble presents "The Nutcracker" in Plattsburgh and Lake Placid. WHEN: Plattsburgh performances are Friday, Nov. 29, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 30, at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1. WHERE: Hartman Theater, Myers Fine Arts Building, SUNY Plattsburgh. ADMISSION: All categories of tickets are on sale at The Party Factory 561-6001 and one hour before each Plattsburgh performance on site at Hartman Theatre. Ticket prices are: General seating: $10 for children (12 and under) and seniors; $15 for adult Reserved seating, $13 for children (ages 12 and under) and seniors; $18 for adults. For ticket information and group sales, call 420-3681. WEBSITE: www.north-country-ballet-ensemble.org WHEN: Lake Placid performances are Saturday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. as part of the Lake Placid Village Stroll. WHERE: Lake Placid Center for the Arts, 17 Algonquin Drive. ADMISSION:Ticket prices are $12 children (ages 12 and under); $15 seniors and students, $18 adults. PHONE: For reservations or ticket information, please call the LPCA at 523-2512. WEBSITE: www.LakePlacidArts.org.