Before the Southwest Virginia Ballet runs its annual production of “The Nutcracker,” dancers must prepare with hours of practice.
“Preparing for ‘The Nutcracker’ is a lot of hours,” said Callaway Turner, one of the dancers. “We are in the studio about 24 hours a week.”
Turner is preparing for her tenth production of “The Nutcracker.” With performances less than a week away, she and her fellow dancers are kicking into high gear.
“We will be in the theatre at the Berglund Center from about 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day this week,” she said. “But the work that we get out of it and the show that we’re able to put on is so worth it.”
“I want to see them achieve their goals and to become beautiful dancers on stage,” said Pedro Szalay, artistic director of the Southwest Virginia Ballet.
More than 150 performers are in the show, with some as young as seven years old, Szalay said. The group has been practicing since September, he added.
“I admire these dancers because this is not only what they’re doing,” Szalay said. “They’re doing class in the morning, going to their school, classwork, and my job is to teach them, give them tools to manage their schedule.”
In addition to the rehearsals, more than 100 volunteers help out with the production each year, assisting with costumes and makeup, Szalay said.
“Sometimes the former dancers from the company for many years [come] back and help us because they love the tradition to becoming part of ‘The Nutcracker,'” he said.
Dancers like Turner said they are excited to show the audience some new surprises in this year’s production.
“There’s always something a little bit different that keeps it fresh and keeps a new energy in it,” Turner said.
Performances of “The Nutcracker” run on Saturday and Sunday at the Berglund Center. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.