A Lafayette Christmas tradition will continue this year, albeit in a different format.
Lafayette Ballet Theatre will offer two virtual performances of “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, December 19 and Sunday, December 20. Tickets are now available at www.lafayetteballettheatre.org. A ticket will allow the purchaser to watch the performance online on one of those dates.
The performances will be filmed in advance at the Heymann Performing Arts Center. About 150 dancers will be featured, including leading guest artists from the Pacific Northwest Ballet.
“So many people have told us that Christmas in Acadiana is just not Christmas without ‘The Nutcracker,’” said Mitzi Heath, who serves as Co-Artistic Director of Lafayette Ballet Theatre along with her sister Shannon. “This is also our 20th anniversary of ‘The Nutcracker.’ That is another reason we had to make this show happen. We want the community to enjoy the beauty of it and share part of their Christmas season with us.”
For the past several weeks, dancers have been rehearsing for the performances. They must wear masks, wash hands when entering and leaving and stay six feet apart unless the choreography calls for a closer distance. Heath said the enthusiasm among the dancers has been inspiring.
“They are here multiple times a week and on weekends,” she said. “As a dancer, these performances are what you work for. There is absolutely nothing like being on stage. The experience and opportunities ‘The Nutcracker’ provides our community is vital.”
For the past 38 years, Lafayette Ballet Theatre has provided those opportunities for local dancers. Adult dancers are paid and work under professional contracts, which allows them to pursue their artistic careers while staying close to home.
“I think that for those who are interested in the performing arts, ballet is such a rich art,” Mitzi said. It teaches valuable life lessons of discipline, self-motivation and focus. “So many dancers have become important leaders in our community. They are the doctors and the lawyers and the teachers. The structure and training and work ethic shapes them. I am so happy that we can be a part of their lives.”
“The Nutcracker” will mark the first performance in several months for Lafayette Ballet Theatre. Heath said everything was in place for performances of “Cinderella” on March 27 and 28. Two weeks before, they learned those shows would have to be canceled.
“That was a huge hit, financially and otherwise,” she said. “The money had already been spent. The costumes were done. The scenery had been bought. We just had to stop very suddenly. It really was a huge blow.”
However, the hope is that “The Nutcracker” will mark a bit of a renewed start. The performances of “Cinderella” have been rescheduled for March 2021. In addition, the organization is looking at resuming some of its outreach initiatives in a virtual format in the coming months.
“What most people don’t realize is that 80 percent of our budget is spent in Acadiana,” Shannon Heath said. “The performances of ‘The Nutcracker’ cost about $170,000. A production like ‘Peter Pan’ costs about $240,000, and 80 percent of that is spent here. The economic impact is really important to the community.”
Tickets to the virtual performances of “The Nutcracker” are $100 each for a regular ticket or $250 each for a VIP ticket that includes bonus content. Performance packs with tickets for both sessions are also available. Processing fees apply. To purchase tickets, visit www.lafayetteballettheatre.org.
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