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‘The Nutcracker’ returns to the Gainesville stage
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Performers in The Gainesville Ballet Company's "The Nutcracker" pose wearing costumes during a rehearsal at the Peace Auditorium on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

The Gainesville Ballet Company is twirling into the Christmas season with its annual production of “The Nutcracker.”

Four performances are scheduled through the weekend at Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium, and the company’s artistic director Diane Callahan expects the room to be filled at each one.

“It’s the opening door to Christmas,” she said about the production. “It’s all about Christmas and a little girl having a Christmas dream.”

While the company’s rendition is adapted from the original version of “The Nutcracker,” Callahan said she’s made some changes throughout the years.

“The very first ‘Nutcracker’ we ever did, the first act was done by the actors at Gainesville Theatre Alliance,” she said. “They actually spoke and told the story in the first act, and then the ballet company did the dances for the second act. It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually came up with a bunch of ideas that are different from most ‘Nutcrackers’ for the first act.”

“The Nutcracker”

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1; 2 p.m. Dec.  2
Where: Pearce Auditorium, 202 Boulevard NE, Gainesville

How much: $14-28

More info: 770-532-4241,

Along with using different music, Callahan said she also cut a few scenes.

“In most ‘Nutcrackers,’ they have what they call a big party scene with a lot of adults,” she said. “I don't have that scene at all. Also there’s usually a Rat King and rats that have a battle with a toy soldier. We eliminated that also.”

She most of her changes have revolved around adding more dancing for the children.

“I keep adding dances, and we keep adding dancers,” she said. “It’s just been a wonderful experience.”

This year, the production will feature a new dance called “Las Parisiennes.”

“It means the Parisians,” she said. “They’re supposed to be French people, and they’re supposed to be silly and funny and goofy.”

She said the ballet includes about 50 dancers, who range in age from 6 years old to professionals in their 30s.

Mary Rose Gibson, a senior dance major at Brenau, said she’s been involved with the Gainesville Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ for the last four years.

“It’s just really magical,” she said about the production. “I think that it’s just a really great Christmas tradition. There’s nothing like it.”

Callahan has been carving out parts for Gainesville’s dedicated performers.

“When I find talented kids, I do something with them,” she said. “I make dances for them.”

Alexis Arria, a professional dancer who will be the “Sugar Plum Fairy” in the ballet, said her favorite part is seeing the reaction of children.

“If you can make a kid smile, you can really do anything,” she said. “If you can make them laugh, it’s pretty incredible to me.”

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Alexis Arria, left, and Nick Hagelin, both performers in The Gainesville Ballet Company's "The Nutcracker," pose during a rehearsal at the Peace Auditorium on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele
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