A scene from the finale of "The Nutcracker." (Chattanooga Ballet contributed photo)

If you go

› What: “The Nutcracker”

› Where: The Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

› When: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9

› Admission: $22, $26 and $34

› For more information: 423-757-5580

E.T.A. Hoffman's classic tale of a Christmas Eve dream in which a Nutcracker Prince battles a Mouse King will be presented in three performances by Chattanooga Ballet on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9, in the Tivoli Theatre.

These performances of "The Nutcracker" have more than 200 performers spread across three casts. Choreography and staging is by Andrew Parker with Caroline Blair, Dillon Davis, Amanda Patton, Samantha Sole, Bob Willie and Joellen Wojitowicx. The dancers will perform to tracks — one of the first productions to use the Tivoli's new surround-sound system, according to spokesman John Farrimond.

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"Waltz of the Flowers" from "The Nutcracker." (Chattanooga Ballet contributed photo)

Chattanooga Ballet will be joined by guest artists Ricardo Rhodes as the Sugar Plum Cavalier and Jonathan Hyde as Herr Drosselmeyer.

The role of Clara Silberhaus has been double-cast with Frances Crowe and Emily Blackwell.

Company artists dancing principal roles are: Caroline Blair, Marzipan, Rose Queen; Dillon David, Snow King; Kirsten Hyde, Snow Queen, Sugar Plum Fairy; Samantha Sole, Snow Queen, Sugar Plum Fairy; and Nena Widtfeldt, Marzipan, Rose Queen.

For this weekend's performances, Park has reimagined the role of Herr Drosslemeyer and created new choreography for the transformation scene and the tableau at the end of Act 1.

Dillon Davis created new choreography for the Spanish dance. The opening party scene has also been reworked and freshened, says Farrimond.

This weekend's performances of "The Nutcracker" are significant to Chattanooga Ballet, not just because they mark the 31st year the company has presented the holiday classic, but because they mark the end of the Bob Willie era as executive director.

After 32 years as executive director, Willie is stepping down and passing his baton to Parker, the company's artistic director. Willie will assume the title of Director Emeritus. He will be honored at the Saturday evening performance.

Under his leadership, Chattanooga Ballet began hiring full-time professional dancers. He inspired the concept of a "home for the ballet," which in 2006, resulted in the William L. Montague Jr. Center for the Dance. Willie and Sonia Young raised funds to purchase and renovate the facility for Chattanooga Ballet's use.

In his second season, Chattanooga Ballet presented its first production of "The Nutcracker," which has since played to more than 360,000 people over the past 30 years. He personally raised funding for the construction of sets and costumes for the production.

He has served as production manager for all of Chattanooga Ballet's productions since his arrival in Chattanooga. He developed artistic collaborations with The Chattanooga Theatre Centre, Chattanooga Girl's Choir, The Dismembered Tennesseans, Choral Arts of Chattanooga, The Hunter Museum of Art and Chattanooga Symphony & Opera.

In 2004, Willie was honored by the Tennessee Association of Dance with the prestigious Margaret Martin Award for distinguished service and outstanding contribution to the art of dance in Tennessee.

He has served as president of Tennesseans for the Arts, chairman of the Tennessee Arts Commission's Theatre Grant Panel, president of the Tennessee Association of Dance and as a panelist for the Southern Arts Federation/National Endowment for the Arts.


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