Vision of Sugarplums
BBES students share in magic of "Nutcracker"
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Two ladies who share the magic of a holiday classic left visions of sugarplums dancing in the heads of Hartselle students recently.
Betty Smith, costume mistress, and Laura Hargrave, ballerina, of "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker" in Birmingham visited students at Barkley Bridge Elementary and F.E. Burleson Elementary to familiarize the children with the sights, sounds, magic and behind-the-scenes work that comprises the live ballet production.
Hargrave, dressed in one of 254 costume pieces Smith designed and made for the production, read the storybook version of "The Nutcracker" to students and took questions from the audience. She and Smith shared actual costumes and photos of costumes from the production with the students, including photos of "The Waltz of Flowers" costumes that have 90 yards of fabric in each skirt.
"The costumes help make the music and the dance come together to create the magic," Smith said.
Smith explained how she used photos and a video of the original 1953 production to recreate each costume.
"Some costumes have taken up to 30 hours each to create," Smith said.
"I've driven hundreds of miles to find just the right fabrics and used a magnifying glass on pictures of the original costumes to count the number of buttons, crystals and candies on each one."
First through fifth grade FEB students and fifth grade BBES students traveled to Birmingham Dec. 15 to see "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker," which features one of only six ballet companies worldwide permitted to perform this version of the classic holiday tale.
The visit from Smith and Hargrave helped to further prepare the students for the performance after viewing and reading "The Nutcracker."