RIVER VALLEY and OZARK AREA — Just in time for the holidays comes the Conway Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas concert, “Tutus and Tinsel,” set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Dancers from Arkansas Festival Ballet will join the orchestra as guest artists for the performance in the Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.
Tickets are available at the Reynolds Box Office, by phone at (501) 450-3265 or toll free at 1-866-810-0012 and online at www.uca.edu/ tickets. Prices range from $5 to $35, with discounts for children, students and the UCA community. A special rate of $15 per ticket is offered for groups of 10 or more for this concert only.
Saturday’s performance will feature selections from The Nutcracker along with favorite songs of the season. The concert includes Christmas classics from “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” ending with the traditional favorite “Sleigh Ride.”
Arkansas Festival Ballet, led by artistic director Rebecca Stalcup, will perform an original dance to The Skaters’ Waltz or Les Patineurs written in 1882 by Emile Waldeufel and selections from The Nutcracker, written in 1891-92 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, in the company’s first collaboration with the Conway Symphony Orchestra.
“Last year I saw two of their (Arkansas Festival Ballet) performances, and they were just excellent,” Conway Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor Israel Getzov said. “So I began thinking about how I could bring them to Conway. ‘ Skaters’ Waltz’ and ‘Nutcracker’ are the perfect pieces for this occasion, and I know that the CSO audience will enjoy their dancing as much as I do.”
Based in Little Rock, Arkansas Festival Ballet is a repertory dance company dedicated to classical ballet training and performance.
“AFB is delighted to present Nutcracker highlights and The Skaters’ Waltz with the Conway Symphony Orchestra,” said Janet Aronson, executive director of Arkansas Festival Ballet. “It has been a number of years since the company last performed to live music with full orchestra. Ms. Stalcup and the dancers look forward to this collaborative arts experience. The company is also pleased to reach a new audience at Reynolds Performance Hall on the UCA campus.”
Stalcup said of the upcoming concert: “It’s fantastic. There’s nothing like dancing with live music.
“We’re excited about reaching a new audience, too. I hope they will be tickled to their toes with us and will come back and see us again.”
Meredith Short, 15-year-old daughter of Curtis and Alicia Short of Maumelle, will dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker.She is a ballet student at Arkansas Academy of Dance, the official school of Arkansas Festival Ballet.
Short, who attends North Little Rock High School-East Campus, has been dancing for six years.
“I started with Irish dance,” she said. “Then we were talking with some people who told us ballet is the basics of all dance. My mom looked around and found this school.I visited and fell in love with it. I started here and have been a student ever since.”
Short said this is the first time for her to dance with an orchestra.
“I’ve danced [the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy] before at a church when we worked in collaboration with the Arkansas Choral Singers last year,” she said.
She also has a solo in The Skaters’ Waltz.
“We’ll be dressed in fur and bonnets,” she said with a laugh. “Everyone has a little solo in this piece.”
Short is active in theater at her high school, but other than that, she has little spare time for activities outside ballet.
“We rehe ars e Monday through Thursday in the afternoon and pretty much all day Saturday, every week,” she said.
“I’m very excited about dancing with the Conway Symphony Orchestra,” Short said. “I hope we can showcase our company really well.”
Parents planning to bring their children to “Tutus and Tinsel” are encouraged to bring their cameras and dress their children in holiday finery for a photo with Santa in the Reynolds Performance Hall lobby during the show’s intermission.
“It’s a great way to start the holiday season with your entire family,” Getzov said. “From grandparents to grandchildren, everyone can sing their favorite carols, experience the music of the Conway Symphony and enjoy the dance of Arkansas Festival Ballet.”
Before the concert at the “Nutcracker Sweets” event, children and their families may enjoy hot chocolate, a selection of desserts, special artwork tocelebrate The Nutcracker and a chance to meet the orchestra’s maestro and ballet dancers from 6-7 p.m. in the Brewer-Hegemen Conference Center adjacent the Reynolds Performance Hall. Tickets are $5 for children and $7 for adults, and those attending “Nutcracker Sweets” will receive special discount pricing for concert tickets. Call (501) 269-1066 to reserve a ticket or visit the Web site www.conwaysymphony.org. Seating is limited to the first 80 registrations.
Parents will be able to find the perfect gift for their favorite dancer at The Ballet Boutique, open during “Nutcracker Sweets” and immediately before and after the concert in the lobby of Reynolds Performance Hall.
- crolf@ arkansasonline.com