Montgomery Ballet to put on Nutcracker for COTR

Photo courtesy Montgomery Ballet
Darren McIntyre (pictured here), artistic director of the Montgomery Ballet and long-time ballet performer, will get his first crack at choreographing the Nutcracker for a series of performances that will make a stop in Demopolis Dec. 2.

Thanks to the new Demopolis High School auditorium and the generosity of grantmakers, the Two Rivers Arts Council is hosting the Montgomery Ballet’s performance of Peter Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 2, bringing a close to the Christmas on the River festivities.

Morgan Grimes, president of the Arts Council, said efforts to get the ensemble to Demopolis began last spring with efforts spearheaded by Beverly Youngblood. Until the completion of the auditorium, Demopolis had no venue for a production that will feature up to 75 dancers and a full stage of scenery and props.

The $6,000 cost of the production is being offset through a $4,000 grant from the Blackbelt Community Foundation Grant and an Alabama State Council of the Arts grant for $1,500. The remaining $500 comes from memberships in the Arts Council and from the $10 admission at the door for non-members. Students who attend with a paid adult will be admitted at no charge.

Darren McIntyre, artistic director of the Montgomery Ballet, said the company will present eight performances of “The Nutcracker” in Montgomery, two in Mississippi, Auburn and Demopolis.

“We’re pretty much on the go from December 1 to the 23,” he said.

In addition, principal dancers will be traveling throughout the country to perform with other companies.

The seven-member production crew will travel to Demopolis Dec. 1 from Auburn and set up in the DHS theater. The performance on Sunday, Dec. 2, begins at 2 p.m.

McIntyre, who started as artistic director in January, said he has performed the Nutcracker for 14 or 15 years. This is the first time, however, that he will be choreographing the most popular ballet. He is creating a new production this year, focusing on the five principal characters of the story: Clara, her older sister Marie; her younger brother Fritz; Herr Drosselmeier and his nephew, Hans. “That’s a twist I’m taking.”

Auditions were held at the end of September, and rehearsals begin October 5.

“The dancers we have are the best I’ve ever worked with,” he said. It promises the ballet will be a lavish production to match that anywhere in the country.

The Montgomery Ballet began in 1958 and began performing segments of “The Nutcracker” in 1971. Five years later the company produced the first full production of the ballet using scenery that still is in use today.

McIntyre, 32, of New South Wales, Australia, earned his Advance Diploma of Dance in 1999 from The Australian Ballet School. Since this he has toured all seven continents as a freelance artist. He now travels as a performer, teacher, choreographer, casting agent and international judge.