Laurel Ballet needs ‘tiny dancers’ for ‘The Nutcracker’

September 10, 2018 GMT

Two notable cultural anniversaries -- one silver, one gold -- will be observed in Greensburg this year.

The Laurel Ballet marks its 25th presentation of “The Nutcracker,” accompanied by the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, which is marking its 50th anniversary.

Performances are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 8 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Palace Theatre, 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg.

Holiday tradition

Seeing a performance of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet is a holiday season tradition for generations of families.

Lifted by Tchaikovsky’s enchanting and exciting music, it tells the tale of a young girl’s magical Christmas Eve.

First performed in Russia in 1892, “The Nutcracker” premiered to American audiences with a San Francisco Ballet production in 1944.

A George Balanchine production with the New York City Ballet in 1954 aired twice on television and fueled a meteoric rise in popularity.

Eleanor Tornblom, Laurel Ballet artistic director and master teacher, is hoping to recruit more young children to dance the parts of Waltz of the Flowers, bon bons, angels and mice.

“We do three performances. I can’t expect my little ones to do three performances,” she says.

She is open to students from other area studios who might enjoy dancing in “The Nutcracker” performing with Laurel Ballet students, she says.

During a recent rehearsal, Tornblom watches as “veteran” Nutcracker dancers Avery Reese, 7, and Brynn Wonderling, 6, rehearse.

“This year they will be mice, and may be in the Waltz of the Flowers and might be angels,” she says.

In marking the two cultural organizations’ anniversaries, Tornblom hopes to inspire more young dancers to consider ballet classes.

“The thing of it is that we build from the bottom. People grow up, they go to college, they go to professional companies. We need more dancers,” she says.

Boys and girls, ages 3 to 10, are needed.

Enhancements planned

As the company does every year, it will make this year’s performance a bit different, Tornblom says.

“We always change it a little bit, just for change’s sake,” she says.

“These little ones will have fun. They are soldiers and rats, is what they are,” Tornblom says, laughing.

“This year the fight scene will be exciting and fun and a little bit of chaos,” she adds. “We have a couple of real big surprises in there, too. We are really pumping up the fight scene.”

Alan Obuzor, who also teaches at Laurel Ballet, will dance the role of the sugar plum fairy’s cavalier (partner) and snow cavalier.

Dancer and teacher Christopher Brandy will play the parts of the Arabian and Dewdrop cavaliers.

“Also, I’ve built a growing Christmas tree. It’s going to be fabulous,” Tornblom says.

“People don’t notice it’s growing. This one will grow from seven feet to over 23 feet, into the loft. This one I built in my yard, and got all the kinks out of it. The design is made to be light and flat as possible so it can rise,” she says.

“It took two weeks to build. I’m 81 years old. I enjoyed every minute of it. It was fun because I could see it was going to be magnificent. It was worth the work,” Tornblom says.

Confidence builder

Along with the tree, which will light up, ballet planners are working on a growing clock.

“Hopefully, with (dancing) mice coming out of the clock,” Tornblom says.

Ballet, Tornblom says, is “an education, not an activity.”

“This is a discipline. It’s work, and it’s a confidence builder. They take great pride in being able to do this because they work at it,” she adds.

“My mantra is we get better or we quit,” Tornblom says.

Some of her students begin studying ballet after seeing the local production and realizing the dancers are their own age, she says.

“If the Greensburg community would come to our performances they would find them to be delightful. Children play the children’s roles. ‘Clara’ is a young girl, not an adult playing a child,” Tornblom says.

Details: 724-832-7391 or laurelballet.com