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Howard Middle Student Playing Lead in 'The Nutcracker' | Arts & Culture

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Howard Middle Student Playing Lead in 'The Nutcracker'
Howard Middle Student Playing Lead in 'The Nutcracker'

Twenty-three District students have been selected to participate in The Nutcracker of Middle Georgia Inc.'s annual production of "The Nutcracker," including an eighth grade Howard Middle School student who will play the lead role of Clara.

Jean Weaver, a Macon dance instructor, decided to create her own production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s "Nutcracker" ballet, and in the winter of 1985, the annual production by The Nutcracker of Middle Georgia Inc. was born. The first performance was at Wesleyan College in Porter Auditorium. Since 1986, The Nutcracker of Middle Georgia Inc. has performed at the Grand Opera House. Each year a select group of professional dancers join the Macon production, but the majority of the cast is made of an amateur ensemble.

“It really is a good thing for the self-esteem of these children to perform on a stage for 7,000 viewers – including a performance for Title I children and the six paid performances," said Marianna Gebara, Managing Director for The Nutcracker of Middle Georgia Inc. "It is a wonderful opportunity for the children to perform with professional dancers. This year we will be bringing in six paid professional dancers.”

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet that begins at a Christmas Eve party hosted by Clara’s family. Clara’s Uncle Drosselmeyer is toy maker and he makes Clara a toy nutcracker as a Christmas gift. After the party is over, the nutcracker grows full size and becomes a prince. Adventure ensues and at the end of the ballet Clara is found asleep on the couch, leaving the audience to wonder if it was only a dream.

Howard Middle School eighth-grader Dagny Ingle was selected this year to play Clara. Dagny is 13 years old and has danced for 10 years. She is currently enrolled in the Jane Madison Studio of Dance Education, where she has danced for six years. She takes dance lessons five days a week and practices with "The Nutcracker" cast on the weekends.

This is Dagny’s sixth year performing in "The Nutcracker" production. Her first role was a mouse when she was 8, then she was a jester, and little girl.

“It is really an honor. It is so cool to have something up there. It tells you how much you have improved," Dagny said.

Dagny said her favorite scene to perform in "The Nutcracker" is the "silk drop" scene. It is the transition from the special effects of the battle scene to a pas de deux, or duet with the prince.

Savannah Banks, an eighth-grader at Howard Middle, has performed in "The Nutcracker" for five years. This year she plays two characters: Snow and Chinese. As Snow, Savannah can be spotted wearing a long, white tutu when Clara is walking through the forest. The snowflakes come out and begin to waltz around Clara. As the character Chinese, Savannah is one of the foods Clara dreams about. She wears red, satin fabric with dragon and flower designs as Chinese tea. In previous years, Savannah has played angel, dragon tail, little girl and toy soldier.

Savannah is enrolled in the Dance Arts Studio and has danced there for 9 years. She was inspired to start dancing through her father, who is the former director of the Grand Opera House, with the hope of performing in "The Nutcracker" one day.

“It is amazing," Savannah said of the opportunity to dance with professionals. "It’s so inspiring. It shows me how far I am and how far I can go.”

The full list of students from Bibb schools who are performing in the 2013 Nutcracker of Middle Georgia Inc. performance of "The Nutcracker" includes:

Alexander II Magnet School

Wilson Brown – Boy, Cavalry

Charlotte Llebat – Jester        

Riley Willis – Mouse

Emma Kate Wright – Cavalry


Carter Elementary School

Alexandra Brown – Angel

Lindsey Gowan – Toy Soldier


Heritage Elementary School

Madelyn VanAken – Cavalry


Porter Elementary School

Destiny Gardner – Angel


Springdale Elementary School

Shaeda Sabri – Toy Soldier

Brooke Kathryn Smith – Cavalry


Taylor Elementary School

Alexa Bobadilla – Jester


Vineville Academy of the Arts

Maggie May Walker – Toy Soldier


Howard Middle School

Savannah Banks – Chinese, Snow

Dagny Ingle – Clara

Sarah Grace Mayfield – Maid

CJ Seymour – Boy

Amber Sweat – Jester


Rutland Middle

Evie Stancil – Herald


Howard High School

Nora Grace David – Chinese, Snow

Sadie Elizabeth Jones – Flowers, Marzipan

Andrew Mayfield – Rat, Young Soldier

Caroline Mayfield – Marzipan, Snow


Rutland High School

Hunter Martin – Rat


Regular performances of "The Nutcracker" will run Wednesday, December 11, through Sunday, December 15. There will be evening performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Additional matinee performances will be held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, December 14, and Sunday, December 15. For more information, call (478) 301-5470.

In addition, The Nutcracker of Middle Georgia Inc. performs a complimentary show for students each year. About 950 to 975 students from Bibb, Houston and Crawford Counties will attend the special morning performance on Wednesday, December 11.

- Emily Brunner

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