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45 Years of Nutcracker: Ballet Midwest presents annual production

For forty-five years, Ballet Midwest has been entertaining audiences with the enchanting Nutcracker Ballet set to the unforgettable score by Tchaikovsky.

Join Clara at her family’s Christmas Eve party where she receives a gift of a Nutcracker that will soon take her on a magical journey. Feel the joy of a Christmas Eve party, marvel at the special effects and excitement as the Nutcracker battles the Mouse King, watch as the snow falls gently in the forest and marvel as the dancers entertain you in the Kingdom of Sweets.

Join Ballet Midwest for the timeless tale of a little girl’s Christmas Eve fantastical dreams on the stage of the Topeka Performing Arts Center.

The production is very entertaining for all audience members – from the seasoned ballet veteran to those seeing their very first ballet. There are many themes that continue through the entire ballet – for example, each dance in the Act 2 Land of Sweets has already been introduced to the audience. The toy dolls that are given to Clara and her friends in the Party Scene have the same costuming on as the Act 2 leads; and in the battle scene our youngest cast members pop out as living dolls dressed in a smaller version of the Act 2 leads.

The performances offer something for everyone. From the Mouse King and the battle scene to the Sugar Plum Fairy, the cast of almost 200 dancers perform choreography filled with humor, excitement and magical energy. There are also many special effects that keep the audience’s attention and excitement –the show is very theatrical!

Points of interest about Ballet Midwest’s Nutcracker

Ballet Midwest dancers performing routines from the Nutcracker Ballet. Photo by Wichers Photography
  • They use all local talent! All dancers are trained right here in Northeast Kansas and many grow up performing in the tradition dreaming of the day they get to perform the lead roles in the production.
  • It’s the longest running Nutcracker in Northeast Kansas.
  • There is a plethora of lighting and theatrical effects – smoking cannons, lighting flashes, growing sets, falling snow, and more
  • Costumes are stunning. Talented seamstresses work endless hours to create them.
  • There is a detailed set where the tree grows over 20 feet!
  • Full family involvement: The Nutcracker has become many family’s holiday tradition – make it yours too!
  • The acting is highlighted. Shannon Reilly (Topeka Civic Theater’s Artistic Director) creates magic on stage and all the cast members join him in bringing the stage to life through their acting ability.
  • Incredible pas de deux (dance of two) dances. Strong gentlemen lift the ballerinas effortlessly in overhead lifts and allow them to float across the stage. The grace and brilliance in these pieces takes your breath away.

Attending ‘The Nutcracker’ is a tradition for so many families, and the Ballet Midwest performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ has become a multi-generational experience with children, parents, and grandparents alike entranced by this story.

Ballet Midwest’s Nutcracker Ballet is a holiday staple and will be performed live at TPAC Friday, December 10th at 7:30, Saturday, December 11th at 1:30 pm and 7:30 pm and Sunday, December 12th at 1:30 pm.

Ticket prices are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors 55 and older, and $12 for students 18 and younger. A family pack of two adult and two youth tickets is $55. Tickets can be purchased in person at the box office of TPAC, from cast members, and at Barbara’s Conservatory of Dance.

Ballet Midwest Nutcracker production will be touring to Concordia, Kansas the weekend after the Topeka presentation. The Brown Grand Historic Theater there requested the production be staged in their theater. The production has also toured to Kansas City, Gardner, Junction City, and Salina in the past.

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Top 10 Health Benefits of Ballet

Ballet is so much more than picking out a leotard and strapping on ballet shoes. It’s about developing skills through dedication and perseverance. Although an athletic background helps, you don’t have to be a pro at dancing to enjoy the benefits of ballet.

Ballet is a great workout for the whole body. Ballet is a weight-bearing form of exercise which strengthens muscles, promotes healthy bones and burns calories. Because ballet uses the full range of muscles, it’s also great for cognitive functions such as coordination and concentration.

Benefits of Ballet

Better posture

Ballet helps you achieve postural alignment. Each movement requires alertness of how you carry yourself from one stance to the other. Elegant forms such as the Port de Bras and High Swan Arms corrects sloppy posture by pulling your shoulders back and elongating your neck.

Boosts confidence

Anyone can do ballet. It begins with the innate desire to pursue ballet and setting achievable goals along the way. A study found that ballet training increased the diversity of subjects’ foot configuration. However, an experienced and amateur met comparable levels of postural control and stance difficulty. You will be amazed at yourself when you complete a posture that used to intimidate you.

Improves flexibility

Flexibility is not a prerequisite for ballet; you gain it through practice. Since ballet involves static and dynamic stretching, doing both will contribute to your overall flexibility.

Builds muscle and agility

Believe it or not, ballet is a combination of pilates and endurance training. It also entails breath coordination throughout your dance sequence. Doing plié squats, ballet jumps, and spins use your own body weight to strengthen your core and lower body. As you continue to practice more, you’ll maintain the integrity of precise movements and your motor skills.

Burns calories

Your body weight affects the number of calories burned in a 90-minute session. A person weighing over 120 pounds can burn about 200 calories or more in just 30 minutes, which is approximately 600 calories per session.

Nutritional consciousness

Whether you’re doing ballet as a casual or serious activity, you don’t want to feel bloated in class. Therefore, being mindful of what you eat will tremendously influence your experience. A well-balanced diet nourishes your body with the right things to complement your internal and external health.

Improves sensorimotor performance

The ability to balance yourself and react to external stimuli is indicative of how tuned your sensorimotor skills are. Participating in a ballet or dance program enhances these skills by engaging both hemispheres of the brain for coordinated learning.

Sharpens cognitive function

Similar to learning a new sport, becoming proficient in ballet challenges your brain to synchronize your form with the expectations. A meta-analysis found that ballet and other dance interventions were useful measures to limit age-related mental impairment such as dementia.

Relieves stress

Ballet should be about having fun and training your body to achieve forms you didn’t know were possible. Get a few chuckles out of your dance mistakes and focus on improving what you can instead of worrying about external issues you can’t change.

Builds social connections

Joining a ballet class and interacting with your group promotes a healthier life. It’s a great opportunity to make friends as you learn and grow together from new experiences. Building strong relationships lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and illness associated with it.

– Photos courtesy of Wichers Photography.

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