Mini-Nutcracker concludes it’s 36th season at the Davis Auditorium

Nashville, TENN — The holiday season is a time to celebrate the joy of annual Nashville traditions and there one tradition that children of several generations look forward to as it is a dance performance of a well loved ballet that is revised to engage and entertain the younger minds of the blooming artistic city.

The Centennial Youth Ballet performs the Nutcracker each year at the theater at Harpeth Hall’s Davis Auditorium and it recently wrapped up this year’s 36 annual Mini-Nutcracker with four amazing performances on Friday, December 1st, to Sunday.

First danced in 1981 as a 15-minute segment of Hickory Hollow Mall’s Christmas entertainment, the show has become one of Nashville’s favorite holiday traditions.

It is called the ‘mini’ Nutcracker – not because all the performers are little, though some are as they are in any performance of this holiday tradition, but rather it is miniaturized and abridged to engage children with the best parts of this wonderful story that leads Clara on a magical tale through a wonderful world filled with candies, and a beautiful sugar plum. 

Designed to introduce young children to ballet as a performance art, The Mini-Nutcracker is an abbreviated, narrated version of the Nutcracker Suite Ballet. The young dancers in the Centennial Youth Ballet perform the ballet’s shortened scenes and variations with poise, technical precision, and polish.

The costumes worn by the students are as professional as the student’s themselves. Both the costumes and the performers soared above any expectation one might have about a performance designed to entertain a younger audience. It was, in fact, the perfect length for most adults!

As a Nashville tradition for 36 years, the Mini-Nutcracker has created opportunities for multiple generations to begin the holiday season together as it is the first of many events for families in December.

And like so many dancers before them, it was the last Nutcracker performance for five seniors who will be graduating this year. Moving on to college next year are: Ella Jowers, Anna Gray, Caitin Narion , Katie Bell Raymond, and Paige Higgins.

Three of these top performers are Hillsboro students: Pippa Davis (Clara) Katelyn Turner-Leftwich (Snow and Big Tea) and Olivia Turner-Leftwich (Snow and Big Tea).

If you missed the performance this year, set your calendar for the first weekend in December for next year as it will be a tradition you will want to add for years to come.

Mini Nutcracker’s Cast




Centennial Youth Ballet is Prepping for a Holiday Tradition

For​ ​the​ ​students​ ​of​ ​Centennial​ ​Youth​ ​Ballet,​ ​Mini-Nutcracker​ ​season​ ​is​ ​already​ ​in​ ​motion;​ ​started off​ ​this​ ​season​ ​on​ ​Saturday, ​Aug.​ ​19, 2017 ​with this seasons round of​ ​Nutcracker​ ​auditions.

This​ ​year​ ​will​ ​be​ ​the​ ​36th year of​ ​performances​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Centennial’s​ ​Mini​ ​Nutcracker.​ ​Under​ ​the direction of ​Mr.​ ​Matthew Christensen,​ ​students​ ​of​ ​Centennial​ ​Youth​ ​ballet​ will ​perform​ ​an​ adapted​ ​version​ ​of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The​ ​Nutcracker.​ ​

Described as a performance that is,​ ​“Designed​ ​to​ ​introduce​ ​children​ ​to​ ​ballet​ ​as​ ​a​ ​performance​ ​art, ​this​ ​longstanding​ ​local Nutcracker​ ​tradition​ ​is​ ​an​ ​abbreviated,​ ​narrated​ ​version​ ​of​ ​Tchaikovsky’s​ ​’Nutcracker​ ​Suite Ballet’​ ​and​ ​features​ ​young​ ​dancers​ ​from​ ​the​ ​parks​ ​program.”​ ​

The Sugar Plum Fairy will be performed by Paige Higgins. The​ ​performance​ ​features ​two​ ​professional​ ​dancers this year. The Sugar​ ​Plum​ ​Fairy’s​ ​Cavalier will be performed by David Flores ​and​ ​Drosselmeyer will be performed by Tony Montalvo.

Each​ ​student​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Centennial​ ​Youth​ ​Ballet​ ​program​ ​that​ ​wishes​ ​to​ ​perform​ ​in​ ​the Mini-Nutcracker,​ ​is​ ​required​ ​to​ ​audition.​ ​These​ ​auditions​ ​are​ ​divided​ ​into​ ​two​ ​groups,​ ​the advanced​ ​and​ ​the​ ​intermediate/beginner​ ​students.​

For​ ​the​ ​advanced​ ​students,​ ​the​ ​audition consisted​ ​of​ ​class​ ​with​ ​of​ ​more​ ​character​ and​ ​pointe​ ​work.​ ​School director, Katherine Wilkening, explained ​younger​ ​dancers​ ​were​ ​”taught​ ​a​ ​bit of​ ​choreography​ ​because​ ​it brought​ ​out​ ​hidden​ ​qualities ​and​ ​allowed​ ​the teachers​ ​to​ ​know​ ​the​ ​students​ ​better.” Ms. Wilkening is a native of Franklin, TN and has been with the Centennial Youth Ballet since 2014. Previous to her coming home to Tennessee, she spent 17 years living and working in New York.

When​ ​asked​ ​if​ ​she​ ​and​ ​the​ ​other​ ​teachers​ ​were​ ​looking​ ​for specific

attributes ​during​ ​the​ ​audition,​ ​Mrs.​ ​Silkening​ ​responded​ ​that​ ​they​ ​were​ ​looking​ ​for​ ​a​ ​few different​ ​things,​ ​“We​ ​were​ ​looking​ ​for​ ​how​ ​accurate​ ​dancers ​are​ ​…​ ​musicality,​ ​personal​ ​expression, how​ ​they​ ​react​ ​to​ ​mistakes, corrections, and​ ​attitude.”​ ​

She​ ​also​ ​stressed​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​knowing​ ​how​ ​it​ ​is to​ ​work​ ​with​ ​the​ ​dancer;​ ​that​ ​the​ ​difference​ ​between​ ​having​ ​a​ ​work​ ​ethic​ ​verses​ ​becoming frustrated​ ​could​ ​be​ ​a​ ​deciding​ ​factor.

Although​ ​the​ ​the​ ​school​ ​already​ ​knows​ ​their​ ​dancers,​ ​Mrs.​ ​Wilkening,​ ​the​ ​school director,​ ​still​ ​finds​ ​importance​ ​in​ ​this​ ​audition.​ ​“If​ ​a​ ​dancer​ ​is​ ​going​ ​out​ ​in​ ​the​ ​real​ ​world​ ​to audition​ ​they​ ​need​ ​to​ ​know​ ​some​ ​skills​ ​to​ ​audition​ ​with.”​ ​she​ ​responds​ ​when​ ​asked​ ​about​ ​the necessity​ ​of​ ​the​ ​audition.​

Mrs.​ ​Wilkening​ ​stated​ ​that​ ​these​ ​skills​ ​include​ ​adaptability,​ ​quick learning,​ ​and​ ​quick​ ​thinking.​ ​She​ ​also​ ​included​ ​that​ ​even​ ​if​ ​students​ ​are​ ​not​ ​going​ ​to​ ​dancing field,​ ​these​ ​skills​ ​would​ ​be​ ​important​ ​for​ ​whatever​ ​profession​ ​they​ ​are​ ​going​ ​into.

The​ ​audition​ ​was​ ​designed​ ​to​ ​be​ ​as​ ​close​ ​to​ ​a​ ​real​ ​audition​ ​the​ ​dancers​ ​might​ ​do​ ​if​ ​they were​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​get​ ​into​ ​a​ ​summer​ ​dance​ ​intensive.​ ​However​ ​the​ ​dancers​ ​did​ ​notice​ ​that​ ​there​ ​were a​ ​few​ ​differences.​ ​

Because​ ​the​ ​teachers​ ​know​ ​their​ ​students​ ​so​ ​well,​ ​they​ ​were​ ​able​ ​to​ ​challenge them​ ​at​ ​their​ ​level,​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​opting​ ​for​ ​easier​ ​combinations​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​the​ ​levels​ ​of​ ​the​ ​dancers. One​ ​student,​ ​Caitlin​ ​Narion​ ​commented​ ​that,​ ​“There​ ​was​ ​more​ ​complex​ ​combinations​ ​in​ ​the beginning​ ​of​ ​the​ ​class.”​ ​

During​ ​the​ ​audition,​ ​the​ ​teacher,​ ​Christensen,​ ​explained​ ​that​ ​this​ ​was to​ ​check​ ​that​ ​the​ ​dancers​ ​were​ ​paying​ ​attention​ ​to​ ​the​ ​details​ ​of​ ​the​ ​combination.

After​ ​the​ ​audition,​ ​most​ ​dancers​ ​felt​ ​good​ ​about​ ​how​ ​they​ ​did.​ ​However,​ ​as​ ​in​ ​all auditions,​ ​some​ ​dancers​ ​were​ ​anxious​ ​about​ ​mistakes​ ​they​ ​had​ ​made.​ ​Results​ ​were​ ​posted Tuesday​ ​the​ ​22nd​, ​and​ ​many​ ​of​ ​the​ ​dancers​ ​were​ ​excited​ ​for​ ​their​ ​roles.​ ​


Rehearsals​ started​ ​the​ ​weekend​ ​of​ ​the​ ​26th,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​dancers​ ​are already​ ​off​ ​to​ ​work​ ​learning​ ​their​ ​various​ ​roles. With​ ​preparations​ ​for​ ​the​ ​performance​ ​already​ ​underway,​ ​it’s​ ​promising​ ​for​ ​another​ ​brilliant​ ​year of​ ​Centennial’s​ ​Mini-Nutcracker.

To purchase tickets for this year’s performance, all tickets will be sold through Brown Paper Ticket’s website or over their phone service.

No ticket sales go through Metro Parks for this performance. A select few tickets will be sold at the door of Harpeth Hall auditorium, however, these tickets sell very fast.

Tickets go on sale to the public

Monday, Oct 30, 6 am.

Friends of Metro Dance Membership

Pre-Sale begins Friday, Oct 27, 6 am.

Friday, December 1, 7 pm
Saturday, December 2, 2 pm & 7 pm
Sunday, December 3, 1 pm