Ballet Western Reserve to deliver ‘The Nutcracker Ballet’ in ‘outside’ performance in Niles

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Every year, Ballet Western Reserve works for months to put on the live performance

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s one of many holiday traditions – The Nutcracker Ballet.

Every year, Ballet Western Reserve works for months to put on the live performance. This year, that’s all changed. Instead of watching from the theater, you can watch from your car.

The Nutcracker in a mask. What could be more 2020 than that?

“It’s different, but it’s a holiday tradition,” said Katie Merrill, executive director of Ballet Western Reserve.

The ballet company is still putting on its annual Nutcracker performance. And for the first time in five years, it’s the traditional ballet.

“Everyone treasure The Nutcracker. We can still give it to them safely-distanced,” Merrill said.

Without their usual stage at Stambaugh Auditorium, the ballet company got creative. Instead of a live performance, they turned it into a virtual experience.

Ballet Western Reserve and Advantage Video Production gave WKBN 27 First News a behind-the-scenes opportunity to see how producers worked to recreate iconic ballet.

“It’s a real production, just COVID style,” Merrill said.

The finished product will be shown as a drive-in movie at the Eastwood Mall parking lot.

Advantage Video Production out of Youngstown filmed the ballet over five days. It was shot all over the Valley, from the DeYor Performing Arts Center in Youngstown to the Eastwood Mall in Niles and then to the Peter Allen Inn in Kinsman.

“Why not showcase the Mahoning Valley at Christmastime in the venues that we are all used to going to for a Christmas production of some sorts,” Merrill said. “We hit both counties, and we’ve given people a really pretty backdrop.”

A much different Nutcracker season for the dancers and staff alike, still twirling and
leaping but now with a mask.

“I think kids are really more adaptable to situations that we’re in currently. I think they are just happy to be able to come to the studio and dance,” Merrill said.

Even with some speed bumps brought on by a virtual Nutcracker unlike any year before, Merrill says they’re just glad to keep the holiday spirit alive.

“I think this year so many of the traditional things that we do as families, as individuals, are different, but we still have to create memories for our children,” Merrill said.

You have three chances to see Ballet Western Reserve’s Nutcracker on the big screen on December 18, 19, and 20 at the Eastwood Mall parking lot. The event is $45 dollars per car. Tickets can be purchased online.

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