PFAC brings a classic to the Pinedale High School Auditorium
by Arnold Brokling
December 6, 2016
The Nutcracker, performed by the Eugene Ballet Company, thrilled audiences in two sold out performances last weekend (Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2 & 3, 2016). First scheduled for one day, tickets sold out rapidly and with some quick PFAC thinking and a lucky gap in scheduling, the Eugene Ballet was able to arrive a day early and accommodate community interest in a second performance, and what a performance it was!
From my experience, not even knowing how to spell ballet two days ago, I was shocked to learn about the tremendous effort that goes into putting a show like this together. This involved the auditions of 88 local kids, countless hours of rehearsal, parents driving across the county for months, local businesses donating time and resources to accommodate the effort, and of course the Eugene Ballet Company.
Arriving by bus Thursday evening, the entourage, including a charter bus, large set truck and support van, arrived in Pinedale. Early Friday, set up began.
In addition to the 23 dancers of the company, the support team is responsible for the set up of the stage. Included in this group are a Production Stage Manager, Technical Director, Lighting Director, Tour Carpenter, Wardrobe Coordinator and Ballet Mistress.
This group, coordinating with school district employees and a host of local volunteers, set the stage. How this was orchestrated was impressive to watch. Everyone with a role, lights were customized, stage props assembled, back drops hung, the dance floor was laid down and taped together and final markings made on floor in order to replicate placement during the performance. To watch the team execute this work is a tribute to collaboration in the workplace. All were considerate and cognizant of each other, and safety always a top priority. Together, they conquered an ominous task in short order.
Then came the dancers. They looked over the stage setup and the markings to familiarize themselves with the layout. Not all stages are the same size and they tailor their routine to fit.
Dress rehearsal next. Of the 88 kids that auditioned, 38 were selected for roles in the ballet. The Ballet Mistress, Jennifer Martin, effectively corralled the Baby Mice, now wearing costumes, ran them through their roles once more. No stage fright there! Each subsequent group of kids went through their roles and familiarized themselves with the stage setup.
While all this was going on, dancers began their pre-performance stretching routine. On the floor in front of the stage, on the sides of the seats or anywhere they could find a spot, they did the ritual of stretches that not only help with flexibility, but prevent injury while they perform their routines. These stretches continued until the start of their two-hour ballet class conducted prior to every performance. Ballet Mistress Jennifer Martin takes the troupe through the paces, honing the skills that an anxious Pinedale audience will soon see. Watching these athletes and the care they take to keep in top condition was amazing. It became very apparent to me, that dance is not a part-time hobby, but a full-time, 24/7 commitment to excellence.
The preparation behind them, the stage set, the magic about to begin!
The doors of the Auditorium open and the crowd works their way through the packed lobby. Some stopped and looked at items for sale. Christmas ornaments, Nutcrackers and baked goods were all offerings. In the maze of people anxious to get seated, I couldn’t help but notice Terry Hill, a welder from Boulder, carefully help guide a resident of the Sublette Center through the crowded lobby and to a seat. PFAC provides seating and makes arrangements for residents of the Sublette Center to attend some of their events.
At seven o’clock sharp, Kari DeWitt, Executive Director of PFAC, comes on stage, thanks countless donors and volunteers, including the Wyoming Arts Council, and welcomes the Eugene Ballet Company and their version of the Nutcracker.
The curtain opens and the Pinedale audience is immediately captivated by this Christmas classic. For two hours, dancers in vibrant costume relive the story. The Christmas Party, The Dream, Winterland and The Kingdom of Sweets, all parts of the ballet, are brilliantly choreographed through dance.
Once again, PFAC hits another out of the park. The caliber of this performance was second to none. The inclusion of children from the community was an experience for them that will not be soon forgotten. It should come as no surprise that none of this would be possible without the vision and commitment of Pinedale Fine Arts, as well the hard work of many volunteers, and the generosity of multiple sponsors.
For so many reasons, we’re lucky to live here.
Enjoy the photos,
Arnold Brokling, www.arniebrokling.photo, firstname.lastname@example.org