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Ballet Wooster will present 'The Nutcracker'

Bekah Combs, left, and Lizzie Meyer.

Ellen Pill

Ballet Wooster will perform "The Nutcracker" on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. at Wooster High School Performing Arts Center.
"One plié at a time," said Stephanie Sustar, co-artistic director of Ballet Wooster.
"That's how we pull it all together," Brenda Schwinn said.
The two co-artistic directors of Ballet Wooster were referring to the creation of Ballet Wooster's premier "Nutcracker" performance.
Although this year marks Ballet Wooster's first "Nutcracker," the production continues a tradition that Schwinn helped start in Wooster 27 years ago.  
Sustar performed in her first "Nutcracker" as a candy cane in 1994 in one of the productions that Schwinn co-directed.
"I don't think I ever imagined that I would be here working alongside of the woman who inspired me," Sustar said.
With a supportive community of board members, dance parents, ballet alumni and community volunteers, the production will feature many new costumes, new sets, a new sleigh and a lighted Christmas tree that grows 22 feet.
Numerous community groups offered support to the production through costume donations and loans including Wooster's Madrigal Dancers, Wooster High School's drama club and Wayne County Performing Arts Council.
The cast of nearly 80 ranges in age from 5 to over 60 and includes community members, dancers' siblings and guest artists.
"The Russian dancers are coming back," Schwinn said. "They are thrilled."
Audience members from years passed will undoubtedly remember the two high-kicking dancers from the Kashtan Ukrainian Dance Ensemble in Cleveland.
Planning for the full-scale production began in May. Organizing a show such as "The Nutcracker" is a huge project. To start, there is music to choose, costumes to order and the complex casting.
"It's a great big jigsaw puzzle," Schwinn said. "For instance you can't cast someone as Mother Ginger and then Waltz of the Flowers because you have costume changes and there is no time, so you have to be sure you have all your bases covered."
Schwinn, Sustar and instructor Veronica Nolletti choreographed the upcoming production.
"It's a very daunting task," Schwinn said. "But you take it in little, tiny pieces, one day at a time."
The dance students make a huge time commitment to participate in the performance. "These dancers are coming in [to the studio] sometimes five days per week," Schwinn said.
Rehearsals began in September while regular dance classes and training continue as well. This can translate to 12 or more hours each week of rehearsal along with dance class. The dancers seem to agree that it's worth all the endless hours of rehearsal.
"You work so hard, and then you put on the costumes, and you get on stage, and you put on the makeup, and you see everyone else do it," dancer Lizzie Meyer said. "It's magical seeing everything come together at the end."
Meyer started dancing when she was 3 and has been dancing for 12 years. This year will be her fourth "Nutcracker."
"Watching everyone work together is just absolutely amazing," said Persis Yoder, another Ballet Wooster dancer. "I love dancing, and I just love performing."
Sara Daugherty dances the role of Clara in this year’s show. "I fell in love with dancing at a young age, watching the older dancers," Daugherty said.
Ever since watching her first "Nutcracker" at age 8, Daugherty has wanted to be Clara. "It's like a dream come true," she said.
There will be a boutique during preshow and intermission as well as raffle tickets for an American Girl doll. Refreshments will be available. All proceeds will support the nonprofit Ballet Wooster dance program.
Schwinn has a personal library of professional "Nutcracker" performances. "We gain inspiration for all of them."
"You can feel the wonder and magic of it all," Sustar said. "You get transported to Clara's dream world. Everyone is really excited and focused."
No need to check the forecast. There is a 100-percent chance of snow during the performance. "We have 30 pounds of 'snow' in a box," Schwinn said.
Reserved seat tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for students and seniors and may be purchased at www.balletwooster.org or at the door.
Wooster High School Performing Arts Center is located at 515 Oldman Road, Wooster.

Published: November 30, 2017
New Article ID: 2017171129903