Wheeling Symphony and Oglebay Institute To Present ‘The Nutcracker’

Continuing a new Ohio Valley holiday tradition, the Wheeling Symphony and Oglebay Institute will present Tchaikovsky’s fairy-tale ballet, ”The Nutcracker” at the Capitol Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, and at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11.

One of the most popular ballets of all time, “The Nutcracker” will feature the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Andre Raphel, professional ballet dancers choreographed by Christopher Bandy with additional choreography provided by Cheryl Pompeo, Kristin Carson, Kim Kafana and Kathleen Gottus, and dancers from Oglebay Institute’s Youth Ballet Company.

Based on a surreal short story by German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, ”The Nutcracker” tells the tale of Clara, a young girl who dreams of having adventures with the nutcracker she receives for Christmas. The music, the dance, the costumes and the story have combined to make ”The Nutcracker” one of the most endearing holiday classics.

The music belongs to the Romantic period and contains some of the composer’s most memorable melodies, several of which are used frequently in television and film. The Trepak, or Russian dance, is one of the most recognizable pieces in the ballet, along with the famous Waltz of the Flowers and March, as well as the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The ballet contains surprisingly advanced harmonies and a wealth of melodic invention.

Tickets can be purchased at Wheeling Symphony box office at 1025 Main St. (Mull Center) Suite 811, or by calling 304-232-6191 or 800-395-9241. The concert is sponsored by the Lynne and Ben Exley IV Charitable Trust Inc. Media sponsor for these performances is WTOV.

This year, the part of Clara will be performed by Whitney Cole Thompson on Friday, Dec. 10, and Adelaide Estep on Saturday, Dec. 11.

“The Nutcracker” will be graced with the artistry of additional dancers with Oglebay Institute’s Youth Ballet Company. They include Abby Thomas, Alice Boos, Alison Irvin, Ally Carson, Amelia Bandy, Andrew Eskelund, Andrew Kean, Anna Turani, Audra Ream, Audrey Blust, Bailey Stephenson, Bella Abernathy, Bethany Stephenson, Caroline Stephenson, Celcey Clark, Clare Carson, Emilee Woodfin, Erica Strope, Evan Oslund, J’Lyse Kafana, Jacie Baker, Jaelee Thompson, Jay Kafana, Jessica Smarrella, Jordan Crow, Katherine Carson, Kelsey Glessner, Kim Kafana, Kristina Slivchenko, Leslie Koretz, Lexie Kosanovic, Lucy Hartzell, Luke Harto, Maddy Cisar, Madeline Tiu, Madeline Mandel, Marina McGinley, McKenna Dunbar, Molly McKay, Morgan McCool, Natalie Gainer, Peter J. Lim, Rebekah Jones, Sarah Jones, Sean Caldwell, Sydney Glessner and Vanessa Hotlosz.

Bruce Wheeler, executive director of the Wheeling Symphony, said. “It is exciting to enter the second year of this new holiday tradition and to partner with Oglebay Institute once more. We also are pleased to welcome back Chris Bandy.”

Chris Bandy was born in Parkersburg, where he trained at the Mid-Ohio Valley Ballet School under the direction of Norma and Suzy Gunter for 12 years. While with MOV Ballet, he toured all over the state in dozens of productions, including “The Nutcracker.”

Bandy left West Virginia at the age of 17 to study with the Princeton (N.J.) Ballet School, which in turn led to his first job as a professional with American Repertory Ballet. He remained there as a company member for eight years, and his repertoire included the role of Oberon in Graham Lustig’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and nearly every male role in “The Nutcracker,” including The Cavalier and Mother Ginger.

Pittsburgh became his home in 2004. He joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where he danced in the corps de ballet for four years. At PBT, he was featured in roles such as Drosslemeyer and the Nutcracker Prince in Terrence Orr’s “The Nutcracker” and the Mad Hatter in Derek Deane’s “Alice in Wonderland.” He is in his third season with Dance Alloy Theater, Pittsburgh’s premier modern dance company.

Other dancers under Bandy’s direction include:

  • Briana DeFalco, a New York City native, began her training at the School of American Ballet. She then joined Ballet Etudes Company as a soloist. She has studied with Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Carolina Ballet, Ballet Austin and Rosella Hightower in Cannes, France.

Most recently, DeFalco apprenticed at age 19 with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, where she worked closely with directors Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson.

  • Seth Belliston, trained at the Belliston Academy of Ballet and the School of American Ballet, is an award-winning classical ballet artist. He is a recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Award for Excellence, as well as the Mae L. Wien Award. Belliston has appeared around the globe as an international guest artist.

In London, the BBC filmed Belliston’s performance of Puck in George Balanchine’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Theater credits include “A Christmas Carol” at Madison Square Garden, choreographed by Susan Stroman; original cast member in one of Jerome Robbins’ later works, “2 & 3 Part Inventions”; “Mame”; “La Cage aux Folles”; Maury Yeston’s “Hans Christian Andersen”; “Applause!”; “Camelot”; “Sound of Music”; “L’il Abner”; “On Your Toes”; “On The Town” and the Broadway company of “Movin’ Out.” His film credits are “The Producers,” ” Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” and “A Christmas Carol” with Jim Carrey.

  • Erin Rivera-Brennand, originally from Santa Fe, graduated from North Carolina School of the Arts and trained with American Ballet Theater, Pennsylvania Ballet, Boston Ballet and Dallas Metropolitan Ballet. She has performed principal and soloist roles with Texas Ballet Theater, Los Angeles Ballet, Bruce Wood Dance Company and the Ohio Ballet. She has performed as a guest artist across the country with various companies. Rivera-Brennand is currently a free-lance ballet dancer.
  • Aaron Ingley is from Tallahassee, Fla. He trained and performed with Tallahassee Ballet and Southern Academy of Ballet Arts. Ingley completed his training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle, Wash.

Professionally, Ingley has danced with Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Pacific Northwest Ballet. A versatile dancer, he was featured in numerous classical and contemporary roles and served as Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s principal character Artist during his nine seasons with that company.

He was featured as Tom Snout in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s television production of Balanchine’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream produced for the BBC. He also has performed at the 1998 Edinburgh Festival, the 2000 Hong Kong Festival and at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London.