‘Nutcracker’ performances receive accolades

Roseanne McKee rmckee@examiner-enterprise.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to an error this article, which appeared on Page A1 of the Dec. 19 edition of the Journal-Capital did not continue on Page A2, as it should have. Here is the article in its entirety.

Though its roots are European, “The Nutcracker” has become a traditional North American holiday treat and Pawhuska has joined in that annual fascination with the beauty of ballet.

A total of 64 cast members recently brought the story of “The Nutcracker” to life for the second year at the Constantine Theater in Pawhuska, with a combination of students and professional ballet dancers in the roles. There were two performances for approximately 700 children and two public performances for 680 attendees.

“Riggs Gorman from Bartlesville Civic played our Nutcracker Prince. He is also being trained by Ronnie Underwood, principal dancer for Oklahoma City Ballet and teacher/owner at Tulsa Dance Company,” said director Randy Tinker Smith.

“Penny Adair has been with us four years and was offered a dance scholarship at Oral Roberts University,” she said.

“The community has come together in such a great way. Around five hours after the final performance I was inundated with calls, texts and Facebook messages. The overall consensus was they were still savoring the experience of our all-children ballet. Amity Bevard, our Sugarplum Fairy, is an adult, and our Nutcracker Prince is barely 18,” Smith said.

“This is the beginning of our fifth year at Dance Maker Academy. The children have done a spring performance each year and gotten some performance experience so this year’s ‘Nutcracker’ ran very smoothly,” she said. “Rehearsals began in September and choreography was by Pavel Rotaru and modified for the Dance Maker Academy students by founder Jenna Smith. Jenna and I acted as artistic directors with Marlene Mosley.

“Marlene Mosley is the driving force behind bringing the Nutcracker Ballet to Pawhuska because of her love of ballet. She trained at Tulsa Ballet for many years, and her dream is that everyone in our community has the opportunity to grow in their love of the performing arts,” Randy Smith explained. “Jenna had the final say in all decisions regarding costumes, backdrops and props.”

Community support has been strong.

“Chad Renro donated 100 tickets, so for the public performances, 165 tickets were donated. All Sunday tickets were matched, and we received a $7,500 donation from John and Leigh Reaves of Tulsa. Jerry and Marlene Mosley are also huge supporters,” Smith said.

The way the production came about is full of serendipity.

“Last year I told Jenna we would have to wait a year to produce (what has always been a dream of hers) ‘The Nutcracker.’ The very next day Marlene Mosley came into my office and said, ‘We need to do a Nutcracker.’ And, in three months we raised enough money to buy 110 costumes, four backdrops and staging,” Smith said.

Smith appreciated the help she received from volunteers.

“Cameron and Kateri Chesbro, Jennifer Adair and her children, Dana Thorn and Cassie Surrett, have been working tirelessly since September,” she said. “At least one person from each cast member’s family pitched in. The General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Heeko chapter, came in to help usher.”

There is also historical significance to “The Nutcracker” being produced in the Osage.

Dance Maker is an Osage-owned nonprofit, and “The Nutcracker” became an established Christmas tradition in the United States after the late prima ballerina Maria Tallchief, who was Osage, danced the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy with the New York Ballet choreographed by the late George Balanchine.

To this day, the New York City Ballet performs a trademarked version “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” each December.

To learn more about Dance Maker Academy, visit their Facebook page or website at https://www.dancemaker.net/.