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

Chattanooga Ballet is presenting the "The Nutcracker" — the classic fantasy ballet of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince, who battle a Mouse King and journey through the Land of Sweets with the Sugar Plum Fairy — in four performances Dec. 13-15.

But this weekend's 32nd annual presentation is the culmination of dedicated efforts to revitalize the performance with the addition of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, new choreography, repainted sets, guest artists and local choirs singing. It's testament to the power of collaboration among arts organizations.

After a year's absence, the CSO and conductor Kayoko Dan rejoin Chattanooga Ballet to play Tchaikovsky's memorable score.

"Having live music provides the most complete artistic experience for our audiences," says John Farrimond, Chattanooga Ballet executive director. "Additionally, with arts organizations in Chattanooga being under stress, it is important to forge partnerships with each other, which is what CSO and Chattanooga Ballet have done this year. Chattanooga Ballet will perform with the CSO again in the spring on 'Apollo.'"

If you go

* What: “The Nutcracker”

* Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

* When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13-14; 2 p.m. Dec. 14-15

* Admission: $18, $31, $41 and $65

* For more information: 423-757-5580

New Chattanooga Ballet Artistic Director Brian McSween has re-choreographed more than 80% of the show, says Farrimond, "so even those who have attended the show every year will be in for a new and exciting experience."

The ballet has contracted guest artists from the New York Dance Project and Sarasota Ballet, as well as Meg Quiroz, formerly a member of Joffrey Ballet who moved to Chattanooga in August.

"This is Meg's debut in Chattanooga. She was previously a company member of Joffrey Ballet, dancing principal roles before retiring to raise her family. This will be her first professional performance in 10 years," says Farrimond, adding very few individuals return to the stage after having three children.

The lead role of Clara will be shared by Chattanooga Ballet students Jenna Kaik and Cate Morton. Company professionals Samantha Sole and Nena Widfeldt will alternate performances of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Dillion Davis will play the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer.

Students from Chattanooga Christian School and Heritage High School will also be part of the holiday celebration. These 34 singers will perform in the ballet's Snow Scene, as well as sing Christmas carols in the lobby before the show.

In total, more than 200 area youth will be onstage as part of this year's cast.

More Ballet Performances

* Dec. 21: Nooga Nutcracker, Walker Theater inside Memorial Auditorium, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., $21 adults, $19 children and senior adults.

* Dec. 21: Ballet Tennessee’s Holiday Special, Center for Creative Arts, 2 p.m., $20 adults, $18 students and senior adults.

* Dec. 21-22: Civic Ballet of Chattanooga, Girls Preparatory School, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, $22 ages 11 and up, $17 children 10 and younger.

* Dec. 24: Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker,” Tivoli Theatre, noon and 4 p.m., $32-$178.

"Chattanooga Ballet is committed to providing a full artistic experience through dance, live music with the CSO, and with local choirs," says McSween. "We believe that the experience of live art cannot be replaced nor replicated, and that the theater is a special place where anyone can come, be valued, be entertained and be provided a little more joy and hope."

Donna Worthington has costumed this large cast. In addition to either creating new costumes or customizing some of the company's significant stock of costumes, she partnered with Chattanooga Theatre Centre for others. McSween rented high-end costumes for the Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen and Cavalier.

Since performances of "The Nutcracker" sold out in 2018, the company expects even higher ticket demand this year with the addition of the CSO, so Farrimond says a fourth performance has been added.

Farrimond adds that the "number of corporate sponsors rose dramatically this year and includes the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau, an important signal that Chattanooga Ballet and local arts play a role in the draw of the city."

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.


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