Nutcracker returns to Perot Theatre

Seniors dance in their last performance of the show

Texarkana+Community+Ballets+The+Nutcracker+opens+tonight+at+7%3A30+p.m.+in+the+Perot+Theatre.+Senior+Rylee+McDuffie+plays+the+role+of+Clara+in+the+show.

Photo by Brooke Knight

Texarkana Community Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Perot Theatre. Senior Rylee McDuffie plays the role of Clara in the show.

Story by Sophie Keller, Staff Writer

Young dancers in sparkling costumes and pale pink shoes glide across the stage, receiving applause from each eager-eyed audience member. Performances like these are exciting for dancers and viewers alike, but this year it’s even more of a special event.

After its absence in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Texarkana Community Ballet’s annual production of “The Nutcracker” is back. 

“It was really weird and sad [not having it last year] because you’ve done it every year,” senior Rylee McDuffie said. “That’s kind of what starts off Christmas for me.”

McDuffie plays a young girl named Clara, the star of the ballet production. Clara takes audience members through a whimsical dream with her where she visits captivating places like the Land of Sweets. Whether performing like Mcduffie or watching, it’s a fun tradition for some families.

“Ever since I was able to go and see “The Nutcracker”, me, my mom and my grandma have always gone every year,” McDuffie said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to have this role, and it really just means a lot to me that I could finally do it.”

Olivia George plays the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in this year’s Nutcracker performance. Veteran area dancers prepared for years to land the leading roles in the production. (Photo by Brooke Knight)

The dancers spend months leading up to the performance learning and perfecting their dances. Although “The Nutcracker” is time consuming, especially with all of the other activities the dancers have, everyone can agree that it’s worth it in the end.

“One of the best parts is the bonding,” senior Olivia George said. “You are spending countless hours working hard with friends to put on the best show possible for your community.”

Dance has always played an important role in George’s life. Being the Sugar Plum Fairy, the lead soloist from the Land of the Sweets, is an opportunity to showcase the work she has put into ballet as her high school dance career comes to an end. As the snow falls at the end of the last performance on Sunday, the tears will be falling as well from these dedicated seniors.

“This year is bittersweet,” George said. “I’m so full of joy, but this is also my last year in ‘The Nutcracker’, which is really sad to think about.”

With dancers ranging from 8-18, “The Nutcracker” is a memorable and heartwarming show for many, and this year is no exception. 

Tickets are still available at the Perot Theatre box office, in person, by phone or online at perottheatre.org. Ticket prices depending on the attendees are $15, $13 or $11. 

“There’s always so many people,” McDuffie said. “I feel like this year there’ll definitely be a lot since we didn’t have it last year.”

Join Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy on a magical journey Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m..