Holiday favorite beginning soon | Arts & Culture

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Holiday favorite beginning soon
Holiday favorite beginning soon

Maine State Ballet’s holiday favorite, the Nutcracker, comes to The Merrill Auditorium again this year with the largest cast of performers in the show’s history.  Nearly 300 dancers from the Maine State Ballet and other dance schools will take the stage over the course of seven performances, beginning Saturday, Nov. 26.

The Nutcracker also features live music by the Maine State Ballet Orchestra, the Musica de Filia Girlchoir and the Westcustogo Youth Chorale.  From the snowflakes falling above the Merrill stage to each individual bead sewn into the costumes  the Nutcracker is Maine’s grandest ballet presentation.   In the 35 years since co-founder and Artistic Director Linda MacArthur Miele first staged the Nutcracker in Maine the show has become a beloved tradition for families.  “It is such a magical time of the year for us,” Miele said. “It is the start of the holiday season for a lot of people. For a few minutes, they are taken away from the bustle, the traffic, the economy, whatever.   It’s a place to go to just enjoy beauty and artistry.”

Besides marking Miele’s 35th year as the director of the Nutcracker in Maine, this year is also special because there will be new faces in major roles.  Two teenagers from Falmouth, Michael Holden and Elise Bickford, take center stage as the Nutcracker Prince and Clara.  

The list of dancers includes 292 individuals, ranging in age from preschool to advanced adult, from 39 towns and cities across southern Maine.  Tchaikovsky’s popular score will be brought to life again this year by the Maine State Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Karla Kelley. Most of the musicians have played with the orchestra for many years, and they come from towns as far away as Farmington, Rockland and Kittery Point.

Performances of the Nutcracker will be held:

Saturday, Nov. 26 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 27 at 2 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2 p.m.

Tickets for the Nutcracker are on sale now through Porttix at 207-842-0800, online at www.porttix.com, or at the Merrill Auditorium box office: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.  Tickets are priced at $15-$55, and discounts are available for groups, seniors and children. For more information, call Maine State Ballet at 207-781-7672, or visit www.mainestateballet.org.

Maine State Ballet is recognized as one of the state’s leading performing arts institutions.  Its two major components are the School for the Performing Arts, offering instruction in several dance styles to more than 500 children and adults; and the Maine State Ballet Company, comprised of more than 25 professional dancers who train and perform at many venues throughout the year.

Artistic director and co-founder Linda MacArthur Miele is a former dancer with the New York City Ballet and protégé of George Balanchine. Jonathan Miele, co-founder, is a former Broadway show dancer.

 

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