JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Ballet Mississippi’s annual holiday tradition will continue this year, but in much scaled back form, as the group prepares for two showings of the one-act production, the Nutcracker Sweets.
This year, the ballet will present the one-act show to comply with COVID-19 protocols put in place by the city of Jackson and Thalia Mara Hall.
“We’re just glad we get to continue to present something,” said Elizabeth VanDeburgh, associate executive director of the ballet. “Our students are so glad we are presenting something to the community.”
Meanwhile, the ballet’s annual Sugar Plum Fairy teas, held before the shows, have been canceled as a result of the pandemic.
Nutcracker Sweets will feature the play’s second act, in the Land of Sweets. It will end with the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier, followed by the whole court returning for the finale.
There will be two showings, December 5 and 6, at Thalia Mara Hall, and both are sold out.
In all, about 500 seats were available at each performance, about a quarter of the 2,000 or so seats at the hall.
The performances will be between 45 minutes and an hour and will not have an intermission.
“We usually have over 100 cast members, but because we’ve reduced it to the second act only, we have about 87,” VanDeburgh said.
Kimberly Blount, one of the ballet’s advanced students, will portray the Sugar Plum Fairy, while her cavalier will be portrayed by David Cummings, a male dancer with the Belhaven University dance department.
Performers will wear a mask during the performance.
“Other ballet companies and studios across the country have done that, out of the safety for their students,” VanDeburgh said. “They’ve been taking class in masks and wearing them during rehearsals.”
She said masks should not take away from the performance. “Our dancers have been dancing beautifully, and there’s always fabulous music costumes and sets.
“We’ll miss some of the smiles from our students, but they will be smiling with their eyes.”