|(Bradenton, FL) Bradenton is about to see sugarplums dancing in their heads as Allison Norton brings her enchanting version of The Nutcracker to Bradenton once again. Celebrating her 20th anniversary as artistic director and choreographer of Bradenton’s sole Nutcracker production, dancers from her non-profit dance company, the Dance Theatre of Bradenton and Bradenton’s Ballet Repertory, will bring her fantastic vision to life at the Davis Center for Performing Arts Center on December 14th and 15th.
Many years ago, when Allison began working on her first rendition of Bradenton’s Nutcracker, her ultimate goal was to bring something special to Bradenton. “I wanted Bradenton to go, “Wow!” Bradenton often takes a back seat to Sarasota, so my goal was to have Bradenton embrace our ballet company and our Nutcracker.” And Bradenton has! Over the years, Bradenton residents have enthusiastically attended the Nutcracker performances with very positive reviews. The President of Dance Theatre of Bradenton’s Board of Directors, Julia Krzyzewski, has been pleased with audience’s reactions to the show. “Year after year, first-time audience members express their astonishment that such a high caliber production takes place right here in Bradenton,” says Julia. The production features the outstanding choreography and artistic direction of Allison herself.
Allison Norton, a former soloist with Ballet Repertory and Ballet Guild of Jacksonville is now the Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Bradenton and Bradenton Ballet Repertory. Ms. Norton trained under world-renowned teachers such as John Field, Artistic Director of London Festival Ballet and Joint Director of England’s Royal Ballet; David Howard, ballet coach to international ballet celebrities including Mikhail Baryshnikov. Former students of Ms. Norton have danced professionally in nationally recognized ballet companies, received scholarships to both professional schools and university, including Houston Ballet School, School of the Boston Ballet, School of the Miami City Ballet and Jacksonville University.
In addition to Allison’s outstanding choreography, the Nutcracker features many other elements that other local Nutcracker productions are lacking, including pyrotechnics, expert costumes and stunning sets. Board of Director’s president, Julia Krzyzewski, is extremely proud of the production’s high quality. “Allison incorporates professional level set design and special effects,” says Julia. “With these elements and her exceptional choreography, this is truly an awe-inspiring holiday event!”
But audiences seem to agree that they are most impressed by level of talent involved. “Over the years, many people thought that the female dancers were professionals,” says Allison, who is proud of the fact that the female dancers are all actually students of hers at Dance Theatre of Bradenton.
Ms. Allison’s students range in age – from adorable 3 and 4 year-olds who play Sheep and 5 and 6 year-olds who play gumdrops to high school and college-age students who play the more technically difficult roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, Dew Drop Fairy and Clara.
For the fifth year, 15-year-old Mattison Bedinghaus stars as Clara. Mattie intends on pursuing dance professionally and has taken part in national dance competitions including Youth American Grand Prix and the American Dance Competition. Ashley Borchert, who plays the Sugar Plum Fairy, formerly danced professionally with Atlanta Festival Ballet. Two professional male dancers, who Allison cast by auditions in New York City, will play the various male roles.
Two other stars of the show are Allison’s Bichon Frise dogs, Angel and Michael. “We are also known as the Nutcracker with the dogs,” says Allison. The two dogs are part of the Party Scene as Clara’s family’s dogs. “I am an animal lover,” says Allison. “I feel like adding them to the production makes it more real.” Angel is also a bit of a celebrity herself. This year, she won the Bishop Animal Shelter’s “Christmas Canine” where she wore a ballet tutu, of course.
You can see Angel and the rest of the cast from Dance Theatre of Bradenton perform the Nutcracker on December 14th at 7 p.m. and December 15th at 2 pm at the Davis Center for Performing Arts. The performance is kept true with classical elements and a creative infusion of Artistic Director Allison Norton’s mix of inventive choreography. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for children 13 and under. For tickets to The Nutcracker, please call 855-222-2TIX (2849) or purchase them through our web site at BradentonNutcracker.com.
Dance Theatre of Bradenton is a non-profit 501(c) 3 corporation formed in 2007 and dedicated to its mission of bringing education in the art of dance to Manatee County surrounding areas. Dance Theatre of Bradenton offers the finest training and performance opportunities for young and aspiring dancers bringing the finest classical and contemporary dance to Manatee County.