The Nutcracker, a classic ballet that has become as much a part of the holiday season as the sounds of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus," is being staged again at The Lyric Opera House this year and includes five African American dancers in lead roles.
In the production, on stage from Dec. 20 through Dec. 22, the dancers from the Baltimore School for the Arts have immersed themselves in the timeless story, first staged in 1892, of a Christmas Eve fantasy of a nutcracker toy that comes to life, pushing through extensive rehearsals to put on a sparkling version of the Tchaikovsky ballet.
“We take pride in the fact that we are training our African American students—all of our students exactly the same way,” Norma Pera, head of the dance department, told the AFRO.
The African American ballet veteran said her Black dance students excel and have gone on to several universities and dance companies to further hone their skills.
“It is my personal mission to be sure the dance world understands that the color of your skin or where you were born has absolutely nothing to do with your talent and your ability to perform classical ballet,” Pera said.
Horizon Logan, 17, a senior at the school, said the experience of performing in The Nutcracker has been “thrilling” and that “all of us put in a lot of effort in improving, working as a team and making the production as best as we can.”
Pera said each year she is pleased to see her students interact.
This year the ballet will include 120 dancers—all Baltimore School for the Arts students.
“I am looking forward to it, just because I get to do something new in it,” said Richell Chambers, 17, who has performed in the Nutcracker for three years.
Tickets for the Nutcracker begin at $33.