Originally published 12.2011 in the Madison Weekly News
The Dance Company will present the Nutcracker on December 10 at Columbia High School.
Celebrating twenty-two years in Madison, The Dance Company was voted Best Dance Studio in WHNT’s 2010 Best of the Valley. Owners Beth Cannon and Julie George have overseen the training of thousands of local dancers. Alumni of the Dance Company have gained success as professional dancers and perform with major music stars.
George and Cannon dreamed of having a Madison Nutcracker for years. Two years ago, with the formation of the Honors ballet program, that dream became a reality. Under the direction of Susan Potts with assistance by Jessie Prescott-Potts, the program has flourished. “We have seen tremendous improvement in ballet students through this program and have plans for continued growth of the Nutcracker and the Honors ballet program for many years to come. We feel truly blessed to have Ms. Susan as part of the TDC family.” said Cannon and George.
The Honors ballet dancers will be performing selections from the Nutcracker Suite. In addition to the Waltz of the Snowflakes from Act I Scene II, the students will be performing the second act from the ballet, which takes place in the "Kingdom of the Sweets."
“The whole Second Act is a personal favorite because the Kingdom of the Sweets is such a magical place. So many parts of the world are represented. This is a wonderful way to expose the dance students to a real traditional ballet. It is festive, fun and best of all, it is a happy ballet.” said Potts.
To be accepted into the Honors Ballet program, each student is first evaluated by the instructors. Once accepted into the program, honors ballet students take at least one additional ballet class per week, in addition to their regular ballet class. “The wonderful feature of this program to me is that it is open to all students regardless of ability who meet the age and attendance requirements set by Ms. Susan. The students just must possess a willingness to learn and attend the required weekly classes.” said Cannon.
“During the first year we decided to have an Open House at the studio just before Christmas break so that the parents could watch their children perform. We decided that a dance from The Nutcracker would be appropriate. The parents and students enjoyed it so much that the following year, parents insisted that such lovely dancing be on a stage where it could be better viewed. We had fifty-four Honors Ballet students that first year and now have grown to just over ninety.” said Potts.
This year, a local artist and dancer’s mother, Gun Abele, created two thirty-foot backdrops for two scenes. The dancers will be in full costume for the performance.
“The students have been working hard attending the many Saturday rehearsals, but they really seem to enjoy the whole experience of being a part of a ballet production. We are starting a new tradition this year as well. The Russian Candy Cane Dance will be performed each year by the Honors Ballet students who are seniors in high school along with any other Honors Ballet students who have already graduated and choose to return.” said Potts.
Potts has big plans for their future performances of the Nutcracker. “Next year we plan to add the Battle Scene between the toy soldiers and the mice. Eventually we hope to perform the entire ballet and become the local performance for our very own town of Madison.”
Photo Credit: Beth Cannon