The Ballet Theatre of Dover
Since The Dance Conservatory opened its doors in 1985, students have always performed repertory pieces during the school’s Workshop Performances. By the 1990s, the repertory pieces had so increased that it became necessary to schedule separate performances. Thus was born the Ballet Theatre of Dover. Officially organized in 1995 as an entity separate from Dance Conservatory, BTD often features graduates of the school in performance with current students and guest artists. Students of The Dance Conservatory are encouraged to attend Ballet Theatre of Dover performances to develop an awareness of and appreciation for the different styles of dance.
The company’s annual performance of The Nutcracker (December) features students of Dance Conservatory from Intermediate Level through Pre-Professional Program. Seasonal performances in May and August have included classical ballet and contemporary productions such as Sleeping Beauty, Speedway (based on NASCAR racing), Swing Suite, Tommy (a rock-ballet), Carmen (a full-length ballet based on the Bizet opera), and Beatles Suite. Dancers for these productions are selected from the school.
Guest artists have included Petter Jacobsson of London’s Royal Ballet, Pavel Kambalov of The Russian Ballet Theatre of Delaware, Charles Askegard of the New York City Ballet, and Gennadi Savaliev of American Ballet Theatre.
A beloved tale for all ages, The Nutcracker has been an annual Holiday classic. Many versions have been created, all focusing on a young girl, her Nutcracker doll, and the magnificent journey she takes to the Kingdom of the Sweets.
In October 1995, Gelsey Kirkland taught Master Classes at Dance Conservatory. The most celebrated American dancer of the 20th century, she had danced the role of Clara in the Baryshnikov version (this is the PBS version shown annually). Gelsey infused the role with so much passion and meaning, interpreting Clara as more than a little girl. Behind all the fluff that had accumulated through the years, lay a story of pristine quality … a love story … an awakening … good vs evil. An old-fashioned fairy tale. Oddly, it is a closer version to the Russian original than the “traditional” Nutcrackers we are all familiar with.
In 1892 the ballet was premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia, a collaboration of the composer Peter Ilych Tschaikovsky and the choreographer of the Imperial Ballet, Marius Petipa. Petipa wrote the libretto loosely basing it on E.T.A. Hoffman’s story “The Nutcracker and the Rat King”. It was brought to the West in 1934. Today, it is one of the world’s most endearing ballets.
To children, it is a perennial fairy tale. To the young at heart, it is a love story that is ageless in its appeal.