Weehawken’s Nutcracker Ballet
Brings the Joy of the Holidays to the Montrose Pavilion
By Ashley King-Grambley, Executive Director, Weehawken
2019 marks the ninth year of the Weehawken Dance’s Nutcracker productions at the Montrose Pavilion. Five performances over four days will bring more than 300 dancers from across the region to participate in the holiday classic by Peter (Pyotr) Tchaikovsky.
This year, for the first time, Weehawken will premier a special edition of the show just for their littlest dancers (pre and primary programs) and advanced young soloists: “The Nutcracker Sweets” on Thursday, December 5th. Tickets are very limited and are only available online at http://www.weehawkenarts.org
The remaining four performances of “The Nutcracker” will feature dancers in levels one through six and will highlight many of the upper level soloists in the program. Shows are split-cast.
All performances promise to be amazing, but if you are interested in seeing a particular student, it will be important to check with the student’s family to confirm which shows their student will be performing in due to the split-cast.
Dancers in the Weehawken Dance program range from two-and-a-half years-old to adult and come from Cedaredge, Delta, Montrose, Olathe, Ouray, Paonia, Placerville, Ridgway, Telluride, and Silverton.
They range from beginners to professionals, though children are the stars of this production. Students take classes for 12 weeks prior to the performances in the communities of Montrose, Ridgway, Ouray, and Silverton. Then the entire company performs together on stage in Montrose for these very special full-scale productions.
“The Weehawken program is notable because of the quality of instruction, which is evident to audience members. We are so proud of the evolution of this program, which started in Ouray County in 2007. More than anything though, we are especially proud of where the comprehensive student skill-set is, which is showcased during the performances.
Frankly, the skill-set comes from our team of amazing, qualified, and quality instructors who hold to the American Ballet Theater and Imperial Classical Ballet curriculum standards. Their instruction lands many of our students in the ABT and Joffrey summer programs each year.”
The dedication of these students is incredible, as students audition for lead roles at the end of the second week of classes. This round, nearly 80 students auditioned for lead roles. After being cast, students cast in leads attend additional rehearsals every weekend and rehearse at least an additional 35 hours prior to showtime.
“It’s definitely The Nutcracker—from the falling snow to the bold costumes. We’ll have more than 400 hundred different costumes on stage,” says artistic director Natasha Pyeatte. “But the show will also have a little bit of a twist, largely because of the impressive growth of our hip-hop and aerial silks programs. The hip-hop adds some fun funk to the shows, and the aerial shows almost give the performances a bit of a circus feel, since some dancers are also dancing from the sky.”
Under Pyeatte’s direction, Weehawken’s shows have become an eagerly-anticipated Christmas tradition in the region over the past 12 years. From the “Waltz of the Snowflakes” (pictured above) to the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” every scene glitters with its own dreamy radiance, reflecting Pyeatte’s talent, vision, and boundless energy as a teacher and choreographer.
Speaking of glitter and sparkles, let’s talk about another unique element about this program: the costumes! “When we founded Weehawken Dance, we wanted to keep the program affordable for our local families,” says Pyeatte. “So often in traditional dance programs, there are so many additional expenses associated with performances from the actual purchase of a costume to having to pay for additional rehearsal time. As a nonprofit, we wanted to flip that model. Our solution was to commit to owning, recycling, re-decorating, and resizing the costumes to get as many uses as we could out of a single costume.” Many of the costumes you will see on stage will get up to nine uses in a show before being retired. Costumes are stored carefully, and then brought out for armies of volunteers to resize and alter before performances, starting in week three. Many of the gorgeous soloist tutus are handmade by Pyeatte’s mother, who has been a costumer for 50 years.
Top: Nutcracker performance at the Montrose Pavilion.Center: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies. Photo by Jayna Rosentrotter. All photos courtesy of Weehawken Creative Arts.
$9 children under 12
$11 seniors over 65
Reserved, front-of-house seating starts at $25
Reserved section and the Thursday “Sweets” show tickets are available only online at http://weehawkenarts.org
General Admission tickets can be purchased online at http://weehawkenarts.org or in person at Tiffany, Etc. 349 Main St. in Montrose.
“Nutcracker Sweets” Thur., Dec. 5, at 6 P.M.
“Nutcracker” Fri., Dec. 6 at 6 P.M., Sat. Dec. 7 at 1 P.M. and 6 P.M. and Sun. Dec. 8 at 1 P.M.