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The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

Staff Profile
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All Magic Takes Hard Work: The Process Behind Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

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Scarlett Learned
A DANCER’S PERSPECTIVE: A view of CPYB’s final bow from backstage gives a glimpse into the dancers’ perspective.

Whether a ballet lover, holiday traditionalist, or someone who likes to indulge in new experiences, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is an annual showing of a heart-warming Christmas story that people of all kinds love.

Through the beautiful costumes, intricate music composed by Tchaikovsky, detailed sets, and of course the mesmerizing dancing of the students at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB), the story comes to life with powerful emotion and graceful poise. 

The professionalism of the production is truly unmatched by any other school, and all performances put on by CPYB mimic those of a professional company, despite most of the students being younger than 18 years old. This is due to the hard work and inspiring determination of not only the students, but everyone involved with the production. 

CPYB is the only school in the world who is licensed to perform George Balanchine’s ‘The Nutcracker’, typically performed by only certain professional companies. Because of this, the version is tailored to professionals, making the choreography more intense and overall more difficult. There are a few differences regarding the plot line of Balanchine’s Nutcracker compared to a typical version; the usage of younger children in the famous Party and Battle scenes instead of adults or older dancers, the name of the main character, Marie, typically known as Clara, and the choreography of all the Divertissements (short dances) in Act II. Nonetheless, the students rise to the occasion every year and handle the challenge head-on.

In order for a company, let alone a school, to perform George Balanchine’s Nutcracker, it takes approval and special permission from members of the George Balanchine Trust, along with having a professional stager, who is certified in Balanchine’s works, come and set the choreography on the students to ensure authenticity. CPYB is included in less than 10 companies who have the right to put on this production, and they never fail to produce a magical performance alongside their professional counterparts. 

Behind the scenes, it truly takes a village to assemble a production at such a high level of intricacy and sophistication. What the audience sees on stage is the final masterpiece, but what is not seen is the months of long hours and strenuous rehearsals. The students dedicate around 6 hours a day, 6 days a week for about 3 months in order to prepare for the shows. From learning the choreography, to honing in on the fine details, the students are able to bring the story to life through intense, but masterful, coaching of the teachers and directors. 

The high expectations of the teachers push the students past their normal limits in order to refine their technique, as well as build enough stamina to be able to perform at such a high level. The hard work of the students and faculty deserve to go unnoticed, as their dedication drives the production forward to an unmatched blend of beauty and strength.

The rehearsal process is not only challenging to the body but can be difficult mentally. The sheer amount of hours and time spent critiquing and revising the dancing can be straining on the students mind, but in the end, the students grow and learn so much about what goes into training at a professional level. Balancing the long days with school and other obligations can be difficult, but this opportunity prepares the students for the future and teaches them about the inner-workings of how companies rehearse ballets, which is a special lesson not all schools get to have.

FINAL BOW: Audience applauds CPYB after an amazing performance of “The Nutcracker” during the 2022 season.

Through the combination of the romantic pas de deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, the magic of the Christmas tree growing to life, a beautiful blizzard of snowflakes, and the dazzling charm of the Dew Drop Fairy with her array of flowers, the Nutcracker is a perfect way to celebrate the holidays and spread the beauty of ballet.

CPYB puts on a total of 6 public shows, December 9th and 10th at the Whitaker Center and the 16th and 17th at the Hershey Theatre. Support CPYB and celebrate the gift of ballet along with the students by coming out to see The Nutcracker. Tickets are on sale now, prices ranging from $25-50. You can buy tickets through CPYB or on each Theaters’ websites! 

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About the Contributor
Scarlett Learned, Staff Writer
Scarlett is a senior at Carlisle High School and is very excited to begin her first year as a member of the Periscope staff. She is a dancer at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and spends most of her time focusing on ballet. She loves performing various ballets each year and looks forward to the local productions CPYB puts on including works that she has previously choregraphed. Outside of the ballet studio, she enjoys listening to music, reading and writing, and hanging out with her friends and family.
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