Dance, Orchestration, and Holiday Spirit: ‘The Nutcracker’ Ballet Returns to Valdosta

When: Friday, Dec. 2 @ 7:30 p.m. / Saturday, Dec. 3 @ 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. / Sunday, Dec. 4 @ 2:30 p.m.
Where: Mathis Auditorium in Valdosta, Georgia

“Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” is essentially the theme song for the month of December. You hear it while doing your holiday shopping, on the radio, while watching “Home Alone” for the 100th time, and you’re probably guilty of humming the tune whether you’ve ever even seen “The Nutcracker” ballet or not.

frankie-spf-3“We’re all very familiar with Tchaikovsky’s score in ‘The Nutcracker,’ but to see it live, on stage, paired with a symphony orchestra is one of the most awesome Christmas experiences you can have,” Allison Shenton, Artistic Director of Dance Arts, Inc., said.

Annually, “The Nutcracker” ballet is brought to Valdosta thanks to Dance Arts, Inc. and the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra. This year, the ballet will be performed Dec. 2-4. The show is special in the region as Dance Arts, Inc. is the only dance school that uses a live symphony orchestra in South Georgia. Show attendees get a night of classical ballet, beautiful orchestration, and a large dose of Christmas spirit.

“The Nutcracker” is one of the most popular ballets to the public, and Dance Arts, Inc. trains to impress. From first graders to professional dancers, rehearsals begin in August, and no matter the dancers’ ages or experience levels, they receive training designed to make them the best.

“We train our dancers at Dance Arts, Inc. in a pre-professional manner,” Shenton said. “We have students that have aspirations to be professional dancers. They will be taught everything we can to prepare them to be a professional dancer.”

This year, a Dance Arts, Inc. former student, David Brandon, will return to play the male lead role as Cavalier. Brandon is currently a sophomore at Jacksonville State University on a full scholarship as a dance major. He began his dancing career when he joined Dance Arts, Inc. to improve his soccer coordination, but later realized he loved dance. For the second year in a row, the Sugar Plum Fairy will be played by Frankie Patten, a high school senior.

Quite possibly the biggest role change, however, is that of the artistic director. This year will be Shenton’s first year having the show under her direction. For the past 43 years, the show has been directed by Linda Chase, who is still a rehearsal captain at Dance Arts, Inc.

“I started training with Linda when I was four years old,” Shenton said. “So, essentially, she has been training me to take over this position for the past 33 years.”

A former company member of the UGA Ballet Ensemble, Shenton has a lifetime of dance experience and education. Her students have been selected for the Governors Honors Program, competed at the Youth America Grand Prix under her direction, and gone on to study at and receive scholarships to many summer programs. She is proud to have many of her past students studying as dance majors at major universities, including Florida State University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Belhaven College, and Valdosta State University. Shenton recently became a member of the dance faculty at Valdosta State University.

If you’ve never seen “The Nutcracker” live in action, the show performed by Dance Arts, Inc. and the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra is sure to be a quality performance that will become a yearly tradition for you and your family. 4-candy-cane-girls

Health Life | November 2016
Dance, Orchestration, and Holiday Spirit: ‘The Nutcracker’ Ballet Returns to Valdosta
Written by: Sarah Turner

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