Classic holiday ballet characters like the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Mouse Queen, and the Nutcracker himself take the stage at Emens Auditorium in Ball State’s Department of Theatre and Dance and School of Music performance of “The Nutcracker” at 7:30 p.m. December 8.

In a new collaboration, Department of Theatre and Dance students and the Ball State Symphony Orchestra are collaborating to tell Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s age-old story of “The Nutcracker.” Ball State student choirs and youth from local dance studios will also make an appearance in the ballet, where the heroine, Claire, embarks on a mystical adventure to the Kingdom of Sweets after being given a magical toy Nutcracker for Christmas.

Audra Sokol, associate professor of dance, said that while the performance follows the traditional narrative, the audience can expect to see the story told through a variety of dance styles like ballet, modern, jazz, and musical theatre, thanks to the collaboration of five of the department’s choreographers.

“Dance concerts are typically devised works of art, meaning they are choreographed in the moment,” Sokol said. “This is our third year doing ‘The Nutcracker,’ and most of the choreography was already created, which allowed for the choreographers to essentially teach the same material from four years ago. Dance productions always dream of working with live music, and we’re thankful for the luxury for this performance. We certainly hope to find future collaborations with the School of Music.”

The idea for this large-scale collaboration between the Department of Theatre and Dance and School of Music for the performance of “The Nutcracker” came about while working with the symphony on a previous Christmas show. To accommodate such a large-scale production, the performance will take place in Emens Auditorium, a new venue for the Department of Theatre and Dance. Because of the additional costs it take to perform in Emens Auditorium, the production has received financial support from Old National Bank, Old National Mortgage, and Ball State University.

“Working with Emens is very different from our usual performance space for dance, University Theatre,” Sokol said. “Design, space, and production elements vary between the two venues so adjustments have been made to allow us to produce the best show possible. Collaborating with the School of Music has been seamless, and I am confident the dancers are prepared to take on this new opportunity of working with live musicians.”

The live performance will be enhanced by the production team’s original work on the set pieces, hair and costume design, and lighting design. Each element of the production works together to showcase the talent of Ball State students and the community and celebrate the holiday season.

“I think ‘The Nutcracker’ conjures up a lot of nostalgic moments for people,” Sokol said. “Most people have either danced in the ballet, watched as an audience member, or listened to the music during the holidays. The combination of beautiful dancing and luscious music has a magical way of warming the hearts of many.”

Tickets for “The Nutcracker” are $10 and are available at the Emens Auditorium box office, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online. Contact the box office at 765-285-1539 or visit the Department of Theatre and Dance’s website ( for more information.

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