Join-in Nutcracker is back

Dec 04, 2012
Rosie Brimley and other balletomanes warm up for Belfast’s inaugural Join-in Nutcracker.

Belfast — Everyone is invited to bring the children and get their sugarcoated twirl on at Midcoast Maine’s second annual Join-in Nutcracker Saturday, Dec. 15 at 11:30 a.m. at the downtown Belfast Dance Studio, 109 High St. It lasts one hour and costs $5, $10 for families, with additional donations welcome as all proceeds benefit the studio children’s scholarship fund. Every participating child will receive a small holiday treat as a parting gift.

Participants of all ages are encouraged to come ready to “perform” in their Nutcracker finest — tutus, holiday finery, nightgowns (in honor of Clara, the Nutcracker heroine), royal garb, tin soldier costumes, Victorian Christmas outfits, etc. Anyone with extra tutus or dress-up clothes to lend are welcome to bring them along.

Coming-as-you-are is of course also fine. The event is geared toward children, but anyone with a love of ballet, dancing or the holiday spirit is encouraged to attend, whether or not they have children in tow as an excuse. The event will be first-come/first-serve with limited capacity, so arrive early to avoid being turned away. Last year’s Join-In Nutcracker, the first ever such event in Maine, was a big success, with dozens of local sugarplum fairies leaping giddily across the dance floor to the classic score.

“The Belfast Dance Studio is so proud to host what is quickly becoming a beloved holiday tradition,” said Lisa Newcomb, BDS owner. “It’s a playful, fun, spirited and beautiful morning.”

The Join-in Nutcracker will begin with a brief telling of the classic ballet from a storybook. The overture will play while everyone gussies up, stretches and gets ready to dance. The event will dance chronologically through the ballet to highlights from the score, with demonstrations of ballet moves for inspiration by two local ballerinas who have danced the ballet before. But no ballet or dance experience is necessary to participate in the Join-in Nutcracker; this event is purely for fun.

The event is co-organized by the Dance Studio and Belfast resident Arielle Bywater, whose family first attended a participatory Nutcracker put on by the city of Chicago. Bywater grew up attending the “Nutcracker” at Lincoln Center in New York City with her grandparents, but knows a lot of families do not have the money for or access to a theater performance.

“And many kids are not able to sit for a two-hour formal ballet. This kind of Nutcracker is the people’s version: it allows everyone to feel the pleasure of the music, of dancing, and of dressing up,” she said.

The concept is based on the Dance-a-long Nutcracker started by the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, now in its 27th year and an event that has become a cherished and suitably offbeat Bay Area holiday tradition.

For more information, call the studio at 338-5380.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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