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The Nutcracker at Shea's
by Joy Resor
A Holiday Chestnut
For the sixth year in a row, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker will be performed at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. The Neglia Conservancy, which will be celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this year, has designed and organized their own version of this famous holiday classic. The production will be set to Tchaikovsky’s original score, played by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by new associate conductor Stefan Sanders. With major elements of Buffalo’s arts scene converging in one place, Neglia’s production of The Nutcracker is sure to be a success.
The Neglia Conservancy is a pre-professional dance academy founded by Sergio Neglia, the current Artistic Director, and Heidi Halt, Executive Director. They were two dancers who wanted to bring their passion to Western New York and have since established a well-respected dance company. The academy educates one hundred students through their classes which are held six days a week. In addition to regular weekly classes, the Neglia Conservancy offers free classes and dance education to children in the inner city through their CityDance program. Since 2006, the Conservancy has maintained a partnership with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and their performances have been accompanied by the BPO’s live music since then.
Over one hundred and twenty ballet dancers from all over the world will perform in the production, which is coordinated by Neglia and Halt. Though the dancers come from all around the world, many are locals, including Gabrielle Thurlow, who will dance the principal role of Dew Drop, and 17-year-old Hannah Ardnt, who will perform as part of the corp de ballet. Thurlow is a Buffalo native and now dances for the prestigious Pittsburgh Ballet Theater as a soloist. Ardnt has suffered from juvenile diabetes since she was 13-years old and yet continues to pursue her dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer. The part of Cavalier will be danced by none other than Sergio Neglia himself, the Neglia Conservancy’s namesake and an artist who has been internationally acclaimed for his impressive talent and gracefulness.
If the past five years have been any indication, this year’s performance of The Nutcracker is sure to be sensational. The production has gotten rave reviews from the Buffalo News in past years, being lauded as everything from simply “brilliant” to “the stuff childhood dreams are made of.” The sets, constructed and designed by University at Buffalo’s professor of scenic design Lynne Koscielniak, are stunning. The handcrafted sets are backdrops you would hope to see at any major theater production in places like New York City. The costumes, designed by the University at Buffalos’s costume shop manager Donna Massimo, are gorgeous. Each of the hundred or so pieces were made specifically for this production and are thoughtfully decorated.
The Nutcracker is a timeless ballet suitable for all ages and will surely help get you in the holiday spirit. Tickets are available for all price ranges: $22, $40, $55, and $70 for premium seating. They can be purchased at the Shea’s box office at 650 Main Street. The production is only at Shea’s on Saturday, November 29 at 7pm and Sunday, November 30 at 2pm, so see it while it lasts!
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