In what has become a favorite holiday tradition, the Barrington Youth Dance Ensemble (BYDE) will present its 19th season of The Nutcracker from December 6-8 at Barrington High School’s Richard C. Johnson Auditorium. Attendees also have the choice to join the cast for Clara’s Tea, which will be held this year on December 7th and 8th at 12:30 p.m.
Directed by BYDE Founder and Artistic Director Mary Brennan, the four performances will feature more than 75 student dancers from the northwest Chicago suburbs, and guest artists from national and Chicago regional dance companies. It’s a phenomenal opportunity to see a world-class dance production right here in Barrington–and one starring many familiar faces (see the full 2013 cast here).
This past weekend, Mary Brennan let photographer Julie Linnekin and I take a sneak peek into the process of creating The Nutcracker. We were lucky to observe the dancers during their first full run-through of the performance at the Barrington Dance Academy studio.
After what we saw, we only need to tell you two things: 1. You really have to go (get your tickets here). 2. You’re in for a treat.
But because the story of the BYDE’s production is so fascinating, I want to share a bit more about how it all began.
A few years after founding the Barrington Dance Academy (BDA) in 1984, Mary Brennan saw great potential in many of her young students.
Mary wanted for them what had inspired her as a young dancer: the chance to be in a real ballet production.
“I wanted the younger, pre-professional dancers to be exposed to top-notch, world-class dancers,” Mary says.
“This is different than producing a recital. You’ve got little Flurries watching and aspiring to someday be the Snow Queen.”
Performing with your idols – could there be anything more awe-inspiring?
The funding for such a project wasn’t readily available so Mary found a way to make it work.
In 1989, she founded BYDE, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) which “promotes artistic integrity, involvement, and awareness through exceptional dance training and performance.”
The Barrington Youth Dance Ensemble presents two full-length ballets per year, including a Nutcracker performance each December and a spring production each June. (This summer’s performance will take place on June 13th & 14th, 2014.) BYDE company members also participate in many community outreach performances each year.
In 1989, Mary only intended to stage a few scenes from The Nutcracker–but she had rallied such support and interest from the community and among her colleagues that she found herself staging the ballet in its entirety. She partnered with choreographer Greg Merriman, a member of the dance faculty at Illinois State University and a former company member of Joffrey II, Houston Ballet, Fort Worth Ballet & Fort Worth Opera Ballet, to create a production that would allow student and professional dancers alike to shine.
The rest is local dance history, with generations of dancers and attendees sharing in The Nutcracker experience. Now more than 2,500 people attend BYDE’s Nutcracker performances each year. (I love to take my sons, both for my love of the ballet, and for the utterly delighted looks on their faces. The Nutcracker’s battle with the Mouse King wins “most often reenacted” at our house, hands down.)
For many, The Nutcracker is a family affair. BYDE advisory board member and BDA/BYDE parent John Kolasinski never anticipated his level of involvement with the production. With his two sons, John Jr. and Julian, and daughter Kiri performing in this year’s Nutcracker, you might think he would be busy enough. But this year the former fire fighter is upping the ante with his appearance as Mother Ginger–or Gingey, as he prefers to call her. His wife, Eva, will be in the audience, taking it all in.
From that vantage point, she’ll be able to admire the exquisite costumes designed by Debra Schoell and Patricia Whitmore, and a breathtaking set designed by James Estes. We hear there’s a snow scene not to be missed!
“This is such an incredible production, comparable to the ones downtown,” John says. “It’s so motivational for the kids to perform with the professional dancers.”
If you’ve never been, it’s a production worth seeing–and it may become a cherished family tradition. Here are some more of Julie Linnekin’s images of our recent sneak peek during BYDE’s Nutcracker rehearsals:
Ticket prices range from $15.00 – $28.00. To purchase tickets, call 847-382-6333 or visit www.BYDE.org.
The BYDE would like to thank their 2013 sponsors. The Nutcracker is made possible by: The Roberts Family Foundation, The Benson Foundation, The Sanfilippo Family Foundation, The Wamberg Family Charitable Fund, Rose Packing Company, Barrington Area Community Foundation, Barrington Junior Women’s Club, The Duchossois Family Foundation, The Target Corporation, The DEMAR Foundation. BYDE’s 2013 production of The Nutcracker is partially supported by a grant from The Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
Barrington Youth Dance Ensemble
Barrington Dance Academy
758 W. Northwest Highway (in the Foundry)
Barrington, IL 60010
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