By Carolyn Karger
Itâ€™s that wonderful time of the year when children make handmade gifts, neighbors bake cookies to share, elves wrap toys, and ballet dancers prepare to give their most anticipated performance of the year, The Nutcracker.
Every year for the past six, the Saint Augustine Ballet has provided an extra special magic to the city of Saint Augustineâ€™s holiday festivities with its sparkling annual production of The Nutcracker at Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College.
Over 70 area ballet students and local celebrities from Saint Johns and surrounding counties share the stage with professional ballet stars from around the world to perform the holiday classic in the great tradition of classical ballet.
â€œItâ€™s the very first time many children and adults are introduced to ballet, which makes it very special,â€ explains the Saint Augustine Balletâ€™s Artistic Director, Luis Abella.
“Every dancer in the production, from our youngest student to our principal stars, is aware that they are making lifelong memories for members of our audience. Itâ€™s a privilege we take very seriously.â€
In that spirit of giving, every year the non-profit Saint Augustine Ballet delivers the gift of a meaningful ballet experience to members of our community who may not otherwise be able to attend the performances in the theater on Dec. 20-21.
The company brings ballet to them with annual performances for senior citizens at the Council on Agingâ€™s River House, and at a variety of special events to benefit members of our community. In glittering handmade costumes, dancers perform exciting, select variations from The Nutcracker known collectively as the Nutcracker Suite.
The Saint Augustine Ballet has performed for benefits at W. D. Hartley Elementary School, Marsh Creek Country Club, Palencia Elementary SchoolÂ and the St Johns County Festival of Trees at World Golf Village.
â€œItâ€™s a great feeling to be able to share ballet and bring a smile,â€ explains Ella Wimpelberg, a 6th grade student from St. Johns County who has performed at the holiday benefits.
St. Augustineâ€™s mayor, Joe Boles, has witnessed first-hand the commitment and passion the young dancers of the Saint Augustine Ballet bring to their Nutcracker performances each year. For the past four years he has joined them onstage along with other local â€œluminariesâ€ to dance in the first act party scene of The Nutcracker.
â€œTo dance at the level these young people do takes a tremendous amount of heart,â€ Boles says.
â€œWe couldnâ€™t be more proud of our dancers,â€ adds Abella. â€œThey are beautiful inside and out.â€
Saint Augustine Balletâ€™sÂ The NutcrackerÂ will be performed at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 20-21 at Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College, 14 Granada St., downtown St Augustine.
For tickets, call 855-222-2849, or visit www.Tututix.com/saintaugustineballet.