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story.lead_photo.caption Alex McNabb, from left, front, Elaina Morgan, Amy Bramlett, Katie Wilson and Allison Erby dance in North Arkansas Dance Theatre’s The Nutcracker performance last year. The theater will perform the play again at 7 p.m. Friday and at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday. Performances will take place at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville’s Independence Hall.

— Warm up, spend time with loved ones and ring in the holidays with a lively Christmas classic.

The North Arkansas Dance Theatre will bring The Nutcracker to life onstage at 7 p.m. Friday and at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday.

Performances will take place at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville’s Independence Hall.

Cindy Hubberd, artistic director of the North Arkansas Dance Theatre, said tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 11 and younger.

Hubberd said tickets can be purchased at the door before a performance, or in advance at the Batesville Area Arts Council,

Sav-On Pharmacy in Batesville, the Batesville Chamber of Commerce, Carlee’s Hallmark Store and all three locations of the NADT Dance Academy.

All funds raised will benefit the theater’s nonprofit dancing troupe, she said. This will be its 13th annual performance of The Nutcracker.

Christmas merchandise and T-shirts will be sold at the shows to raise funds, she said.

“We use dancers and nondancers and bring in guest artists for the major roles. It is a communitywide experience,” she said.

Hubberd said this year’s cast is the largest yet, featuring about 100 participants who have been rehearsing since August.

There’s a wide variety of cast members, ranging from 3 to 65 years old, she said.

“Sets and costumes are all bought with funds raised. We order the costumes, but the sets have been done locally. We have a character, Mother Ginger, who is over 12 feet tall and has a huge hoop skirt that dancers hide under. She is rolled around by a very strong man, as he can only follow tape on the floor because he can’t see through the skirt,” she explained.

According to a press release from Hubberd, NADT has added a Snow Forest dance number to this year’s performance, which will feature music from the Grand Snow Pas de Deux.

Riley Madlock, a new guest artist, will breathe life into the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Hannah Paulson Wells, assistant director at NADT, said the cast has been nothing short of wonderful.

“The Nutcracker began as a fairy tale in 1816. It was adapted into a classical ballet in 1890 Russia and set to music by Tchaikovsky. Since then, there have been countless renditions and adaptations by ballet companies and dance schools all over the world. We have been doing our version of The Nutcracker for 13 years,” she said.

“The story centers around the Stahlbaum family and its annual Christmas party. The children are entertained by the family’s godfather, Herr Drosselymeyer, and the magic that follows him. In the second act, audiences are transported to the Kingdom of Sweets as they see inside a young girl’s dream.”

Wells said many cast members have the opportunity to reprise previous roles and look forward to enhancing their performances each year.

“This show is so special because some of these teenagers and adults have been in the show all 13 years and have danced their way through many different roles. It has become a holiday tradition for our community,” she said.

“We have two special dancers that make a cameo appearance in our Nutcracker every year; they are our Snow Babies. Audience members are always in awe of these toddlers who seem to be driving a sleigh through our snow scene,” she said.

Each year, NADT tries to add something new to the performance, she said.

“We are previewing a new dance number in this year’s Nutcracker, Snow Forest. I choreographed this piece to feature dancers in our corps, as well as three soloists. It carries the audience through a magical snowstorm and into the Kingdom of Sweets,” she said.

Wells said NADT gives dancers access to professional training in a company atmosphere, which is uncommon in many rural areas.

“I began dancing with the NADT dance company in 2000 and had already been a student of its academy since 1992,” Wells said. “We have an amazing camaraderie in every aspect, from our board members to our dancers, to the parents and backstage workers. It is a great place to be.

“Our Mother Ginger is enormous and always takes our audience by surprise. Everyone enjoys hearing those holiday tunes that can invigorate and carry you through the entire season.”

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