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New American Youth Ballet gives back with ‘The Nutcracker’

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Youth performance

What: The New American Youth Ballet and Conservatory of Fort Wayne will present three performances of “The Nutcracker,” for one the general public and two goodwill shows for invited audiences.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday general admission; 2 p.m. Sunday, for members/clients/families of social-service agencies (sold out); and 6 p.m. Sunday, for members and families of the “serve and protect” professions, such as police, fire and military.
Where: University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center, formerly the Scottish
Rite Center, 431 W. Berry St.
Cost: $15 for Saturday (tickets available in advance by calling 471-7848 by 5 p.m. Friday or at the venue box office beginning one hour before the show); $5 per person for the 6 p.m. Sunday show for eligible audience members, but tickets must be reserved by 5 p.m. Friday by calling 471-7848.

Social-service, protection, care services invited to special performances

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 12:01 am

Members and clients of the Fort Wayne area social, protection and care services are invited to attend two goodwill performances of “The Nutcracker.”

Presented by the New American Youth Ballet and Conservatory, this “Nutcracker” is designed to appeal to families and small children.

There will be one general admission performance open to the public and two goodwill performances, one for social-service agency clients and staff and one for emergency-response personnel, those in the military and veterans.

“We wanted to do 'The Nutcracker' for our students,” said the youth ballet's Dean of Ballet Beth McLeish. Learning “The Nutcracker” is an integral part of the ballet experience for young dancers.

“We wanted to find a way to make it possible for people to see 'The Nutcracker' who might not afford (the Fort Wayne Ballet's production),” McLeish said. “(It) gives students experience and reaches people. … What better way to give back to their community than through dancing?”

There will be 65 students involved in this “Nutcracker.”

“(It's) for children, by children, about children,” McLeish noted.

Each performance will be 90 minutes long, without an intermission. Only Herr Drosselmeyer and the Grandmother will be performed by adult dancers. The youngest performers will be 3 years old.

Because this rendition of “The Nutcracker” is focused on children, McLeish said some of the more menacing and mature details have been sidelined.

“We have a one-headed mouse — his mask has a smile on his face,” she said. “We're trying to avoid the coming-of-age story. … Clara is a child.”

All performances of New American Youth Ballet's “The Nutcracker” will be held at the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center, formerly known as the Scottish Rite Center.

“Their facility has a generously sized stage. … It's wonderful for our use,” said McLeish, whose students have performed there since 2004.

In preparation for their upcoming program, dancers from the New American Youth Ballet are giving miniperformances for local social-service groups. Each miniperformance includes a reading of “The Nutcracker” story, a discussion about live theater behavior and a 10-minute dance lesson for the children in the audience.

At a recent demonstration, preschoolers from the MLK Montessori School visited the ballet's studio and had their picture taken with the dancers.

The New American Youth Ballet's performances of “The Nutcracker” include a general admission performance open to the public Saturday. The goodwill performance at 2 p.m. Sunday for social-service agencies and clients is sold out, but seats are available for the goodwill show for “serve and protect” workers at 6 p.m. Sunday. After each goodwill performance, Santa will give a gift to each child who has attended.