The Return of a Classic!

Gwinnett Ballet Theatre brings its nostalgic — and safe! — production of The Nutcracker to the Infinite Energy Center just in time for the holidays.

By Stan Awtrey | Photos by Richard Calmes

The Gwinnett Ballet Theatre is on a mission to ensure there is still something normal that families can enjoy during the holidays. The professional company is forging ahead with its plans for its annual performance of The Nutcracker at the Infinite Energy Theater. Proper precautions will be taken to protect the safety of the audience and members of the company, but the show will go on.

“So many people consider The Nutcracker an important part of their holiday traditions and we are working hard to keep our performances live,” says Lori Zamzow-Wire, the new artistic director of the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre. “I remember the first time I went when I was a little girl and it still brings back wonderful memories. We hope our commitment to perform will give a boost to our community and lift their spirits.”

A Safety-First Approach
The performances will take place with reduced seating, social distancing and will include an optional walking intermission through the exhibits at the Hudgens Arts Center. Performances are scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday over the first three weekends of December. Performances the final week will be accompanied by a live orchestra. Not only will the performance be nostalgic, it will also be historic.

The Nutcracker will be the first major performance since the partnership was forged between the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre and the Sugarloaf Youth Ballet. The two prestigious organizations joined forces in February 2020 to create a premier dance studio that brings opportunities for professional dancers and students who aspire to perform at the highest levels. A cast of more than 100 dancers — professionals and students — will participate.

The Gwinnett Ballet Theatre and the Sugarloaf Youth Ballet are based at the Sugarloaf Performing Arts Center in Suwanee. It is the largest location for dance instruction in Gwinnett County and features a dance instruction school, youth ballet company, daytime ballet conservatory and a professional company.

Zamzow-Wire is the founding director of the Sugarloaf Youth Ballet and president of Sugarloaf Performing Arts. She studied dance at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and has performed in several professional companies. Her vision is to create a full ballet company that can give dancers an opportunity to perform at home.

“Before our two groups merged, our students who wanted to dance professionally had to leave the area to find opportunities,” Zamzow-Wire says. “Now they have the opportunity to dance professionally in Gwinnett County. This is exciting for everyone involved. We will have several homegrown professional dancers in the cast for The Nutcracker.” The Gwinnett Ballet Theatre has had to overcome several obstacles related to Covid- 19. The number of performances require that multiple casts and dancers are shielded inside a “bubble” to protect them from the virus and passing it along to others. But there’s a safety-first approach.

“We take every sniffle seriously,” Zamzow-Wire says. “We want everyone to be safe, everyone in our audience and in our production.”

The ballet master is Bruce Thornton, who spent 15 years with the Miami City Ballet. Thornton was formerly on staff at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

The number of tickets will be limited because of the reduced seating, which means sales alone will not fully cover the cost of the performances and orchestra. Organizers are asking sponsors and donors to come forward to support the Gwinnett ballet company. Advertising options, donor reception and VIP seating options are available for sponsors and donors.

Virtual tickets will also be available for those who are unable to attend and want to enjoy the performance at home. This option is ideal for those who are at-risk, out of state, or are not comfortable around public gatherings. Gwinnett Ballet Theatre is also offering live performances and virtual tickets at a discounted rate to daycare facilities and local public and private schools.

For more information please call Gwinnett Ballet at 770-682-5333 or contact nutcracker@gwinnettballet.org.

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