The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet dazzles all ages at the Pablo

World-renowned dancers join efforts with local children to curate a unique ballet
Photo by Maggie O’Brien
A glance of the cover of the programs handed out before the performance.

On Wednesday, Nov. 29, the Pablo Center at the Confluence was decorated with festive hues and crowded with ballet-lovers of all ages. 

Everyone was dressed to impress for The NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet as they funneled into the spacious RCU theater. The ballet began at 7 p.m. and spanned 2 hours, with a 20 minute intermission. 

According to the NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet website, the ensemble for the ballet featured artists from over 11 ballet capitals, including Ukraine, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan and Turkey.

Jocelyn Guelce, marketing director for the NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet, said there were several new features introduced to the production this year.

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“This year our Harlequin will bring an action-packed performance to the stage featuring a Cyr wheel, performed by Grzegorz Jastrzebski,” Guelce said. “Act two’s beautiful Land of Peace and Harmony features a number of new handcrafted birds from the Czech Republic which introduce a new character, The Herald. It’s a wonderful experience.”

According to Guelce, the ballet partnered with Infinity Dance Center of Eau Claire to bring the Dance With Us Program to the Eau Claire youth. 

This program provides young dancers with the unique opportunity to perform alongside the world-renowned international cast of the production.

“The kids spend a lot of time rehearsing for these roles following a local audition in the fall,” Guelce said. “We are so proud of each and every one of them and can’t wait for them to have their moment in the spotlight.”

Alex Ludwig, director of studio partnerships for the ballet, manages the Dance With Us! Program.

Ludwig said she collaborates with a dance studio to host the children’s cast in each city. The dance studios run all of the rehearsals for the children leading up to the show.

“I hope that the ballet shows kids across the country that dance is a universal language,” Ludwig said. “I want every child that joins us on stage, or in the audience, to leave feeling inspired to continue or start their dance education.”

Ludwig said she feels sending the production’s dancers out on the audition tour is a lot of fun and the dancers go to about 20 different cities. 

“Getting feedback from them about what they loved about each city is always interesting,” Ludwig said. “I’m lucky, I get to focus on the fun part of the tour which is giving the opportunity to as many kids as possible to dance with our company.”

Ludwig said the ballet feels so unique because the children’s cast get to audition with a professional ballerina. 

“They spend a lot of time rehearsing with our incredible host studios, and then they get to be on a big stage and share it with our cast,” Ludwig said. 

According to Ludwig, the children have a rehearsal on stage with the professional company and get to hear the dancers talk to each other in a variety of different languages. The children then get to wear beautiful costumes and be a vital part of the show.

“I’d be remiss to not say how important the Eau Claire community is to us,” Ludwig said. “Infinity Dance School has been an incredible partner for us, and without them, we wouldn’t have been able to have 55 dance students join us on stage. Our community partners and local students really are the heart of our show.”

O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

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