Contemporary ballet

Erie Contemporary Ballet Theater presents The Nutcracker “Erie’s Own”

Saturday 24 – 25 November

After last year’s success, Erie Contemporary Ballet Theater is sweetening the east side by returning to the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center in Mercyhurst for their fourth annual performance of Nutcracker.

Although the location and well-known story of the Christmas season’s favorite ballet remains the same, viewers can still expect surprises. “Each year we change some of the choreography, we constantly improve the costumes and we can use bigger backdrops and more props,” said Sarah Purvis, artistic director of the ECBT.

The holiday season offers a plethora of Nutcracker productions, but ECBT brings a family freshness with theirs. The original ballet, which tells the story of a Christmas Eve dream, lasts two and a half hours. Potentially a deterrent to children (and parents of young children), the creators of “Erie’s Own” Nutcracker removed the repetitive bars, cutting the show’s length while retaining the suite’s beautiful scenes, beloved melodies, and memorable characters.

“It allows kids, and kids at heart, to enjoy a family-oriented tradition together,” Purvis said of the change.

Families are also at the center of the stage show. “Each cast member involved has a family member who volunteers…. This allows everyone to have a ‘stake’ and responsibility to the production.” Purvis continued, “It really is a ‘family’ production!”

Classical Russian ballet, most recognized for its musical score by Tchaikovsky, is complemented on stage with breathtaking handmade sets and costumes that are sure to transport audiences to the magical world of Sugarplum Fairies.

With schedules a month before Christmas Day and on Christmas Eve, organizers have expressed excitement about kicking off the holiday season soon after Thanksgiving tables are cleared. “It’s always been a holiday tradition for family and friends to attend,” Purvis said. “[And] if i can be so bold i think Nutcracker is as much a holiday tradition as watching A Christmas story.” – Hannah McDonald

Saturday 7 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. // 501 E. 38th St. // $17 to $40 //