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Nutcrackers and Snow


By Michael Buss, 2011-11-17
To enter the studios of the Anaheim Ballet on Nov.16th was to enter a wonderland of elegance and charm. The Cheese and Wine party was an opportunity for supporters of the Ballet to mix and meet, and get updated with news of the forthcoming Nutcracker performances.

The charm began even before one entered the main door where a live nutcracker soldier, barely 5 feet tall, stood to attention with snow swirling round in the soft evening light. Into the entrance lobby and you were whisked on your way with a line of dancers, each waving you into the party. At the top end of the lobby harpist Leah Cecil plucked at the strings and you wondered if heaven might be like this!

Harpist Leah Cecil with Michael Buss and
Board member Dorothy Rose

The gathering room just outside the main studios was transformed with festive decorations and before you had time to catch your breath food servers from The Catch Restaurant, led by the Executive Chef Nelson Barillas, were offering you mahi-mahi salsa on crinkly crackers, freshly made pot-stickers and a variety of dips, cheese and fruit.

One of the studios was laid out for informal relaxation and conversation while a musical duo played; Ed Kusby, guitar and harmonica, and cellist Melissa Hasin.

Of course there was a short program -- at which Mayor Tom Tait was presented with The Big Cheese award!!

The main wonderment was why the place was not fully packed out. There was no heavy pitch for money – just a celebration of the art of dance. Director Larry Rosenberg took the stage to explain that the Nutcracker this year would be better than ever and that choreographer Sarma Rosenberg has worked with the dancers to bring into the famous Snow Scene the sense of darkness and threat that Tchaikovsky intended by the music. Then to our huge delight the dancers came into the studio and performed the scene.

Dancers costumed as snowflakes whirl around the principal dancers.

Let me tell you something. There is nothing to compare with watching beautiful ballet from 10 feet away! You see the sheer athletic power and beauty of total self-control poured into the fluid passion of the dance. And people in the audience choked up. Yes – they had tears in their eyes.

One visitor who had never been to the studios before commented afterwards; “I drank the Kool-Aid. I’m in!”

A word about money. It costs a huge amount to costume and produce ballet shows. It costs a lot to provide free dance lessons to the scores and scores of kids who throng the after school classes every day of the week. And from Anaheim Ballet dancers rise to national and international performance level.

Kids of all kinds, including those who come from impoverished backgrounds, can here find a culture of self-esteem, achievement an caring that is second to none. Here they can dance their hearts out for the sheer joy of being in the music, and bring untold delight to parents, friends and audiences wherever they go.

A stunning grand jete!

Take a ballet student and put them in the normal workplace and you will have an extraordinary employee, because these young people know about self discipline, perseverance and the choreography that translates into knowing how to be team workers and organizers.

Honestly, if I ran a sizeable business in Anaheim, I would want to be a sponsor of this remarkable, world renowned ballet company. I would look at what the various levels of sponsorship could provide and say to my public relations department – set aside at least $5,000 for this school – every year. Can we make it more? And when a board members wonder why I would do that I would say; Because this is an investment in the soul of our community. And when the arts are strong, we are the stronger.

As in individual supporter of dance I can’t dig as deep into my pocket as I would like. But I would urge you to make a donation of some sort. And bring your family and friends to the Nutcracker – Saturday, Sunday December 10th and 11th. All the details are here on this website, with links through to Anaheim Ballet’s website.

The flash cameras popped for the photo ops. And then desserts were upon us provided by the Cheesecake Factory and Le Mirage Pastry.

A beautiful evening. I wish you, dear reader, had been there. But maybe I’ll see you at The Nutcracker.

Photos by Ricky Hernandez



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