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Ballet Austin's 'Nutcracker' returns to Waco

Nov. 19, 1999

Dance company

to perform in town

for 2nd year in a row

By LAUREN JENKINS

Reporter

The Waco Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Austin will perform Tchaikovsky's traditional Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker, at 2 p.m. Sunday at Waco Hall.

This year's performance features Ballet Austin performers Stephanie Wagenman as Clara, Ethan White as the Nutcracker Prince, Dana Lewis as the Snow Queen, Nadya Zybine as the Sugar Plum Fairy and special guest Dr. Rosanne Stripling, superintendent of Waco I.S.D., in the role of Mother Ginger.

The musical director for the show is Stephen Heyde, professor of music at Baylor, and the artistic director is Stephen Mills of Ballet Austin.

'We have done The Nutcracker with Ballet Austin before, but this is the first time we have done it for two consecutive years,' said Jane Splece, marketing and education director for the Waco Symphony Orchestra.

'Previously, we have only done the show every other year, but due to support we are able to do it again this year,' she said.

The Nutcracker is a tale of a young girl's pilgrimage into the

Land of Sweets through her dreams.

Professional dancers from Ballet Austin fill the major roles, but according to Splece, allowing local dancers from Waco and Central Texas to dance with a professional company provides a unique opportunity for the younger dancers.

'The young dancers audition for the role of the Bon Bons, and they win the parts,' Splece said.

'As for the role of Mother Ginger, it has been a Nutcracker tradition to have a local leader or celebrity to perform it.

It is kept a secret, and the Waco Symphony Association, bestowing the honor, presents the chosen performer with a proclamation,' she said.

According to Splece and a Ballet Austin biography, past celebrities to play the role of Mother Ginger include former Governor Ann Richards and Michael Dell of Dell Computers.

'My favorite part of the performance is when the mom comes out and all the children come out and dance from under her big skirt,' said Vanessa Dunnam, a Waco junior. 'My family and I go every year. I really like the costumes, and I like Tchaikovsky's music. Also, seeing The Nutcracker reminds me Christmas is coming.'

Tickets for Sunday's performance will be available today and tomorrow at the symphony office, located at 600 Austin Ave., in Suite 22 of the St. Charles Place building, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tickets will also be available at the Waco Hall box office at noon Sunday.

Students wishing to attend the performance can purchase tickets for $10 at the box office for main floor seating.