In an admixture of sweat and grace, 70 dancers in Great Falls perform the beloved ballet “The Nutcracker,” in a confined space that is exactly the size of a roast beef restaurant.
It’s a simple comparison, since Margaret Haddad’s dance studio is above Arby’s in Great Falls, where people enjoying afternoon coffee and cinnamon rolls sometimes hear the intriguing thumps of small feet dancing jetes above their heads.
On Sunday, the dancers wore their costumes for the first time for a run-through. Despite thunderstorms moving in and humidity building, the dancers moved gracefully through familiar scenes with party children, toy soldiers, mice, rats and snowflakes.
A CD provided the accompaniment, and supporting mothers and fathers crowded against the walls, helping with costume changes and coaching.
Haddad, now directing her 11th performance of “The Nutcracker,” trod delicately between the art of classical ballet with its lovely French phrasing and the commands of the battlefield, commanding tiny “mice” to tiptoe, box and avoid the evil rats.
Paula de Carlo, the wardrobe mistress who has made all the costumes, called out costume reminders to small dancers learning for the first time that ballet can be grueling before it becomes glamorous and effortless.
The labor and love of the dancers and adults will culminate in three performances well-suited for young audiences on the weekend after Thanksgiving Day: Saturday, Nov. 30, at 2 and 7 p.m., and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1, at South Lakes High School in Reston.
Haddad, who has taught dancing for 40 years, says “The Nutcracker” costs some $26,000 to produce.
It involves 70 children between 5 and 17, and 754 pieces of costume.
Stage effects include the scenery, snow and fog.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $14 for children. Group rates are offered.