Eglevsky Ballet, Long Island’s premier ballet company and academy presents its annual production of the holiday classic, The Nutcracker featuring choreography by the company’s executive artistic director, Maurice Brandon Curry. The performances will take place on Saturday, Dec. 18, at 2 and 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec. 19, at 2 p.m. at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Greenvale.
Eglevsky Ballet brings the beloved story to the Tilles Center stage with Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, stunning costumes, thrilling choreography and a cast of more than 80 professional and student dancers.
Eglevsky Ballet’s production is the longest, continuously running Nutcracker productions on Long Island. Eglevsky Ballet’s production tells the story of a young girl named “Clara” and how a mysterious gift from her godfather, “Herr Drosselmeyer” brings about an enchanted, fantastical dream. A holiday tradition for more than 50 years, Eglevsky Ballet’s production will be performed with live music provided by the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, of New York City, under the baton of maestro David Bernard. This is the first year for this exciting collaboration between the Eglevsky Ballet and the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony.
This year, the role of “Clara” will be danced by 16-year-old Alexa Robins of Commack. Robins has been studying at Eglevsky Ballet in their pre-professional training program for five years and is currently in the honors program at the Eglevsky Ballet academy. This production, which premiered in 2015, has several different elements chosen to develop the relationship between “Clara” and the “Nutcracker Prince”.
Curry replaces the “Snow Pas de Deux” with one danced by “Clara” and the “Nutcracker Prince.” The “Nutcracker Prince” will be portrayed by 17-year-old student Max Barker.
Barker is being trained at the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and, also, studies privately with Fabrice Herrault. Barker was recommended personally by former ABT principal dancer and current artistic director of the ABT JKO School, Cynthia Harvey. This year, Barker was a finalist at the Prix de Lausanne. Having the pas de deux performed by these two characters, Curry said, “By doing this, the connection between the two characters is more developed and also gives the opportunity for Clara’s dream to have a more poignant and personal effect on our audiences.”
Another highlight of this year’s production is the return of Eglevsky Ballet alumni Sarah Gavilla as “The Sugar Plum Fairy.” Gavilla portrayed “Clara” in the debut of this production in 2015. She returns to Eglevsky after having been an apprentice at Miami City Ballet and a member of Alabama Ballet.
“It is so wonderful returning to this same production which helped launch me into preparation for a professional career. I am so grateful to Mr. Curry for giving me this opportunity,” Gavilla said. “Whoever said you can’t go home again, certainly didn’t train at the Eglevsky Ballet.”
For the performances, Gavilla will be reunited with her partner from Miami City Ballet, Santiago Castañeda of Collage Dance in Memphis.
This year, Curry has added new and exciting features by way of special animation created by Kevin Nunez of Forty Flying Fish, in Brooklyn. He previously worked with this talented firm when he choreographed The Red Shoes for Eglevsky Ballet in 2019.
“I am thrilled to work with Kevin and his fantastic team again,” said Curry. “I have always wanted to add a more whimsical approach to the production and this year, after much time to think about just how to do it effectively, I came up with this approach. I think it will be a crowd pleaser for sure.”
The Eglevsky Ballet has presented The Nutcracker as a holiday gift for children of all ages since 1961.
Tickets may be purchased from the Tilles Center box office or through Ticketmaster. Visit www.eglevskyballet.org for details.