Allegheny Ballet Company artistic director Connor Kilian Weigand is hoping to get you in the "holiday spirit," he said, with the company's 2013 production of the classic "The Nutcracker," which is bringing a few fresh twists to the classic ballet.
"The show is going to be fantastic. The lighting is only going to get better. The dancing. The story line is definitely coming together," Weigand said. "We made a few changes just to keep [the production] fresh and new, and I'm going to try and do that almost every year so that every time somebody comes back, they're seeing something new."
The production will feature local talent with the decision to have more in-house dancers as leads than in past productions.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
In Allegheny Ballet Company’s presentation of “The Nutcracker,” Mia Zlupko (lying down) plays Clara, who is being attacked by dancers portraying mouse soldiers.
"Now most of the people we've brought in have been former talent that have come through here, but we've got some great dancers coming up the ranks right now in-house, and I'm trying to prepare them so that they can have all of the leads next year," Weigand said. "That's why I tried to go away from the amazing special guest performers and bringing in a little bit of a younger talent just to bring it back to about our kids in house here."
For the production this year, dancers from the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet Company & School - Brooke Bero, dancing as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and John O'Neil, dancing as Cavalier - will perform along with the company's students.
Not bringing in outside talent next year is "going to save us a lot of money as a nonprofit, which is a big deal," Weigand said. "The community has definitely come by and helped out, but over the past few years arts organizations are seeing less and less funding."
If you go
What: Allegheny Ballet Company's "The Nutcracker"
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13 and Saturday, Dec. 14; 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15
Where: Mishler Theatre, Altoona
Tickets: $23, adults; $18, seniors 65 and older; $15, children 12 and under. Prices include box office handling fees. Tickets are available at 944-9434, the Mishler box office, or online at www.mishlertheatre.org.
The ballet company, which also has a recreational program, has open enrollment and offers classes in many forms of dance including jazz, tap, hip-hop, musical theater and contemporary.
Student Mia Zlupko, 11, of Altoona, will take on the role of Clara in the production. Student Daniel Hamer, 11, of Altoona, will dance the role of the Nephew/Prince.
"I think it's fun. Even though you have to act a lot, ... it is fun," Mia said of playing such an iconic character.
Students Kaylie Hutzell, 15, of Duncansville and Katarina Flores, 16, of Altoona will dance as the Dew Drop Fairy and the Snow Queen, respectively.
"And they've really stepped up to fill in those roles," Weigand said. "They're beautiful dancers."
Dancing as Snow Cavalier is student Noah Mendum-Purdy, 16, of State College.
Noah is feeling excitement and nervousness about dancing the lead role but feels up for it and believes he will have fun, he said.
Student Robert Fulton, 13, also of State College, will dance the role of Soldier Doll.
"I'm really glad I'm going to do it," student Joshua Rice, 10, of Altoona, said of dancing the role of Fritz, a role he will share with student Olivia Batrus, 10, of Altoona.
Along with help from other nonprofit arts organizations, the community is also involved with the production.
"We've really seen this year the community try and help out a lot which has been fabulous. It's made a lot of our jobs a little bit easier, which is always nice," Weigand said.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.