Generations of families celebrate the Christmas season with a special trip to see The Nutcracker ballet, spending time together and creating wonderful holiday memories. South Georgia Ballet (SGB) will help continue that tradition as it presents the much-loved classic at Thomasville Center for the Arts on Nov. 26 at 7 p.m., Nov. 27 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. 

This year’s performances are generously sponsored by TC Federal Bank, Thomasville Toyota and the Edward C. Fogg III and Lisbeth A. Fogg Charitable Trust.

Though COVID-19 put a damper on many holiday traditions last year, South Georgia Ballet was able to create a safe environment for both performers and attendees to enjoy the holiday Tradition of the Nutcracker. Guests enjoyed a fully immersive Nutcracker experience where they followed Clara through her dream into different rooms to experience each scene. This year, the performance will be held at Thomasville Center for the Arts in the beautiful and intimate in-house theater. 

“By popular demand, we have brought back the interactive experience of the Nutcracker. Though the entire show will take place in the traditional setting of a theater, we have surprises around every corner!”, said Melissa June, who is marking her 10th season with SGB.

The second act will be accompanied by Camerata South, directed by Boyan Bonev, featuring a group of six musicians who will join the dancers on stage for the sweets in the second act. 

“Due to space limitations, we cannot have a full orchestra, but have figured out a way to have live music. When this ballet was written, the music and the ballet were synonymous, and it is such an integral part of the full experience. We are happy to have come up with a way to provide our dancers and our guests with the beauty of live classical music,” Bonev said.

New this year, SGB invites patrons to visit The Merry Marketplace one hour before each performance. Come shop with local vendors and eat, drink and be merry! Vendors are Sweet Cacao Chocolates, HT by Design, The Method Boutique, Sweet Tea and Sunshine Designs, Sewn Down South Designs, Taproot Customs, The Juice Box, Pipkin Woodworks, Olive Creek Ranch, LLC, and Miss Myrt’s Nutcracker Ballet Boutique. There will be authentic German gluhwein, a spiced mulled wine, and bratwurst. Another fun opportunity for kids this year is the “Character Meet and Greet,” which will take place after each matinee and requires an additional ticket. Characters from the Nutcracker will present every attendee with special gifts for children to take home.

Emily Grace Tuten is playing the role of Clara. She is the daughter of Scott and Daphne Tuten and is a sophomore at Brookwood School. She has danced with South Georgia Ballet since she was 3 and has always dreamed of being Clara. 

“Emily Grace does such and excellent job of bringing the technical virtuosity that the role requires as well as the youthful spirit and joy that Clara embodies,” June said. “Emily Grace has always had an undeniable stage presence and she will capture the hearts of every audience member.”

“I’m most excited about dancing the pas de deux with David as my Prince,” Tuten said. “Dancing this role has taught me so much more about myself, my technique and my ability to connect with my partner. It has been fun to step aside from reality and become Clara. I can’t wait!”

Dancing the role of Sugar Plum Fairy is guest professional, Hannah Holtsclaw. From Andover, Connecticut, Holtsclaw began training at Connecticut Concert Ballet. She is entering her fourth season as a principal dancer with Ballet Pensacola, where she has performed the roles of Sugar Plum, Snow White, Dream Clara, Cinderella, and Paquita. In addition to dancing with the professional company, Holtsclaw is youth division manager for Ballet Pensacola Academy, and teaches modern dance for the Tech Division. Holtsclaw holds a B.F.A. in dance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), where she studied under the direction of Qi Jiang and performed the principal role of Nikiya in La Bayadere.

David Brandon returns for his sixth performance with SGB as the Nutcracker Prince. 

“We are so lucky to have David return year after year,” June said. “His professionalism and charisma are unparalleled as he travels from Jacksonville every Saturday to practice with our dancers. We are so blessed to have a partner that is so committed to our dancers and our company.”

Jeff Lovett continues to play the beloved and mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer for the 24th year in a row! He prides himself that around the time of his wife’s Artisan Market, Elevate, he becomes Father Christmas and for the Nutcracker Season he transforms into Uncle Drosselmeyer. 

“The Nutcracker isn’t The Nutcracker without Jeff,” June said. “There is a certain way about him that brings authenticity to the role. He embodies every characteristic that Uncle Drosselmeyer was written to have as well as having the wisdom and history of this company. He can tell stories from each and every Nutcracker that SGB has ever put on.”

Join SGB’s graduating seniors; Elise McPherson, Brookwood School; Olivia Woods, Cairo High School; Aniya Morris, Thomasville High School Scholar’s Academy; Valerie Todd, Thomas County Central High School; and Haddyn Harrell, Cairo High School as they take the stage for their final performance of their beloved holiday classic, The Nutcracker.

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