When the Black Diamond Ballet Theatre soars onto the newly restored stage of the 1,800-seat Pittsburg Creative Arts Building on Dec. 7 and 8, it won't be just guest soloists like Antioch native Terrin McGee-Kelly gracing the annual "Nutcracker" production.
The East Contra Costa County professional ballet company's third Nutcracker -- after renovations caused a two-year hiatus -- will have all the necessary accouterments. There will be youngsters dressed as mice or soldiers; teens swirling like snowflakes or blooming with the splendor of spring flowers. Visitors from foreign lands will twirl umbrellas, twist behind veils and test the limits of leaping. A young Marie will receive a Nutcracker doll and her brother, Fritz, will tease and trouble her by breaking it. Falling asleep with the beloved doll, mended by the kindly relative who first bestowed the gift, a tree will grow and a battle ensue. The victor will take Marie on a global journey filled with magic, mystery and always, movement. Climactically, a dazzling Sugar Plum Fairy and her prince will inspire.
Woven into the Nutcracker's pirouettes and perfect lines of the corps de ballet, nostalgic memories of long-abandoned ballerina dreams and freshly-sprung visions of Sugar Plum Fairies-to-be will enlarge the audience experience. This is the power of Nutcracker -- and the magnetic draw causing many families to attend year after year.
In 2009, choreographer Michael Lowe and BDBT Artistic Director Sharon Sobel Idul stepped up to maintain the classical ballet tradition when touring companies stopped bringing their productions to Pittsburg's then-aging theater.
"We saw the need for a local, resident company to fill the void," Idul said.
The reception from the local community was brilliant, she said, but the subsequent two-year renovation interrupted her company's momentum. During the 2012 return, she says there were lingering "challenges of breaking in" the new stage.
But there was no dearth of talent or enthusiasm.
"I believe the community as a whole has a sincere passion and craving for the performing arts, but rarely an opportunity to share it," Idul says. "Parents of our local student-trainees volunteer their skills through the costume design and sewing, marketing, community outreach, set design and construction — all very much a collaborative effort that fosters the production's growth and originality."
As a young company, freelance professional dancers perform BDBC leading roles, accompanied in the major corps sections by approximately 30 nonprofessionals from Idul's affiliated school, the nonprofit Delta Ballet Academy.
This year's Sugar Plum Fairy, McGee-Kelly, arrives upon the solid legs of her DBA and Joffrey Ballet training. With Bay Area appearances including guest stints with Theater Ballet of San Francisco, Oakland Ballet, Peninsula Ballet Theater, and Ballet San Jose, she says in a news release, the ballet is "wonderfully magical to me."
Idul, laser-beam focused on framing the ballet's playful divertissements and adequately lighting the theater's "huge space," says this year's new props and sets will "help dress the stage and work with the theater rather than against it."
Assisted by Associate Artistic Director Alexandra Lengyel, Idul remains devoted to her hometown and sharing the ballet in the same theater where her dreams began. It's no surprise to learn that Idul was once a 3-year-old, gazing upon the arabesque of a Black Diamond Ballet Theatre Sugar Plum Fairy and plotting her future.
What: 'The Nutcracker'
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 7; 2 p.m. Dec. 8
Where: Creative Arts Building 250 School St., Pittsburg
Info: 925-754-9833 or 925-427-2334; www.blackdiamondballet.org or firstname.lastname@example.org Cost: $20 orchestra; $15 balcony; seniors 62 and older and groups of eight or more get15-percent off. Group purchases must be made at Delta Ballet Academy, 300 G St., Antioch. Tickets also available at Railroad Book Depot, 615 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg. Student rush tickets: Available one hour prior to showtime at the only at the theater.