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Dancers perform in the 2019 staging of "The Nutcracker" by Ballet Chesapeake.
Dancers perform in the 2019 staging of "The Nutcracker" by Ballet Chesapeake. (Fallston Group)

Christmas is still three weeks away, but I have been feeling the excitement building for what seems like ages. Traditions are such an important part of the holidays, and for many families I know, the season just wouldn’t feel complete without catching a performance of “The Nutcracker. If you’re looking for a great local venue for watching this classic holiday show, look no further than Towson University.

On Dec. 14-15, “The Nutcracker” will be staged by Ballet Chesapeake in TU’s Stephens Hall Theatre. Complete with grand-scale backdrops and new Maryland flag-themed soldier costumes, the production is sure to delight guests of all ages.

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Ballet Chesapeake reports that auditions for this year’s show were larger than ever. “We had more than 75 children from studios throughout northern Maryland audition this year,” said Kaitlin Weber, executive director of Ballet Chesapeake. “It’s the largest class we’ve ever had, and we’re excited for each and every one of them to get the chance to perform. We don’t like turning aspiring young dancers away.”

The role of the Snow Queen will be danced by Anastasia Bekker, a senior at Edgewood High School enrolled in the International Baccalaureate magnet program. Bekker, 17, has danced with Ballet Chesapeake since she was 4 years old. “Anastasia has danced with us her whole life,” said Barclay Gibbs, Ballet Chesapeake’s artistic director. “She’s put in a ton of hard work and dedication, and we’re excited to see her come alive as our ‘Snow Queen’ on stage.”

Special guests for this year’s performances are Nardia Boodoo, who will perform as the Sugarplum Fairy, and Da’ Von Doane, her Cavalier counterpart. Boodoo is visiting from the renowned Washington Ballet, and Doane from the prestigious Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Boodoo, a Baltimore native, is a graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts, who went on to earn scholarships to attend prestigious dance schools, including the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Jacob’s Pillow and the North Carolina School for the Arts. Doane, a Salisbury native, received his training at the Salisbury Studio of Dance and was named one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine in 2014.

Performances will take place on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., and on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.balletchesapeake.org or over the phone at 410-877-0777. Ticket prices range from $21 to $28 in advance and $30 at the door.

In the spirit of the season, attendees are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped gift for Toys for Tots. Marked boxes will be positioned throughout the venue to collect donations. The U.S. Marines and local volunteers will distribute gifts collected by the campaign to help spread the joy of Christmas to children in need in the community.

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