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Fort Wayne Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ marches back into town

Holiday tradition to feature shows with The Philharmonic

Fort Wayne Ballet's annual presentation of "The Nutcracker" opens Dec. 2.

Emma Bachtel

Whatzup Features Writer

Published November 23, 2022

If visions of sugar plums are already dancing in your head, then you should come see the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” on stage during Fort Wayne Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker

At this show, opening Friday, Dec. 2, at Arts United Center, you’ll follow Clara on a fantastic adventure through the land of sweets. 

According to the ballet’s website, “Holiday magic abounds as Clara’s toy Nutcracker springs to life and sweeps her off to a land of sweets and wonderment! Fairies and snow flurries shape this enchantment that must be dreamed to be believed. 

“A tale for children young and old, the precious characters and familiar musical themes make Fort Wayne Ballet’s The Nutcracker the very heart of our favorite traditions.”

In the midst of the cold winter season, Fort Wayne Ballet hopes this show is a familiar, warm embrace to the community. Audiences can expect to see many traditional aspects of this show, such as the iconic scene where snow falls on stage and on the audience, as well as some updates. The first three shows will also feature the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.

“We’ve got some new costumes,” said Karen Gibbons-Brown, Fort Wayne Ballet’s artistic director. “We tend to refurbish costumes periodically, so this year, the sugar plum fairy will have a new tutu.”

Pirouettes and Puppies

In addition to beautiful dancers, you’ll also find some furry friends on stage. This will be Fort Wayne Ballet’s 12th year partnering with Humane Fort Wayne to bring a dog into The Nutcracker cast. 

“We have had a lot of success over the years with rehoming animals,” Gibbons-Brown said. “We’re grateful they’re partnering with us.”

“This year’s performances of The Nutcracker will be dedicated to the memory of our longtime friend of the animals, Joni Dick,” Gibbons-Brown said. 

Dick had walked the dog on stage more than a decade but passed away last summer. 

According to Dignity Memorial, Dick was a dedicated volunteer with Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control, Fort Wayne Ballet as a board member, Humane Fort Wayne, and Junior League of Fort Wayne and saved more than 200 animals. 

She is deeply missed, and her impact on Ballet and community will never be forgotten anytime soon. 

Teaching Dance and Giving Back 

Fort Wayne Ballet has held a stuffed animal drive the Fort Wayne Police Department for 15 years. The stuffed animals are used by the officers to help comfort children in difficult situations. According to a 2019 Whatzup article, “(The Ballet’s) efforts alone have led to the collection of almost 4,000 stuffed animals.”

The students at Fort Wayne Ballet’s Auer Academy are encouraged to participate in the collection. 

“We want to teach our students in this organization to give back with their time and talents,” Gibbons-Brown said. “We are this community’s ballet, and we do our best to support the community that supports us.”

Kris Kringle Village Returns

If you stopped by the Kris Kringle Village last year during its inaugural appearance, then you have experienced its magic.

“The Kris Kringle Village takes you back in time a bit,” Gibbons-Brown said. 

According to the Ballet’s website, Kris Kringle Village “takes its cue from traditional German Christmas Markets that fill the holidays with food, entertainment, and seasonal ornaments, gifts, and fare.” FWB strives to support the community with this event by featuring a variety of local vendors. 

Even the construction of the market included the community. Students at Fort Wayne Community Schools’ Anthis Career Center were responsible for constructing the specially designed chalets.

Gibbons-Brown said the village is even bigger this year.

“Activities and entertainment have been added to expand on the event,” she said. “I’ve even heard that Santa is making a special appearance on Saturdays.” 

Santa will, indeed, make his appearance each Saturday from 1-3 p.m. There will be a mix of entertainment, including choirs, dance schools, and some special entertainment from groups like Pyroscope, who do laser lights and acrobatics. All of these groups perform on the Arts United Plaza as patrons are coming in to see The Nutcracker.

Gibbons-Brown also said the market will be more pedestrian friendly this year. 

“We are closing the plaza from traffic, so pedestrians can walk freely and patrons of the ballet can visit the village before the performance or during intermission,” she said. “You don’t have to purchase a ticket to enjoy the village.

“We want this event to continue to grow and become a real holiday destination for families.”

Philharmonic joins in

To continue a nearly 40-year tradition, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic will be joining FWB to play the music for the first weekend of The Nutcracker

The Fort Wayne Philharmonic, under the direction of Andrew Constantine, will be playing the familiar scores of Tchaikovsky as the FWB company members perform. 

“To have live accompaniment is a really special privilege,” Gibbons-Brown said. “This is something that few professional companies have the luxury of.”

With all of these incredible features, it is no wonder FWB’s The Nutcracker landed on the Wall Street Journal’s list of the “Top 5 Nutcrackers in the World.” 

“Fort Wayne Ballet performed Fort Wayne’s first Nutcracker over 50 years ago, and we hope it continues to be a true tradition for our community,” Gibbons-Brown said. 

She encourages audiences to purchase their tickets early, especially if they want multiple seats in the same area. 

To purchase tickets, go to artstix.org or fortwayneballet.org.

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