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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 10, 2009

New venture
Guilderland Ballet tackles The Nutcracker

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — For the first time since the Guilderland Ballet was founded 41 years ago, the school will put on a full performance of the famous ballet The Nutcracker.

For as long as the school has existed, Peter Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, composed in the 1890s, has been America’s most popular ballet. Generations of children have followed little Clara’s Christmas journey as she protects her toy nutcracker from the mouse king’s onslaught and travels with him to the land of the sugar plum fairy.

Julie Gale, a teacher at the Guilderland Ballet for nearly four years, will be directing the show.

Gale, who teaches the older and intermediate students, said the Guilderland Ballet, said the school always puts on a concert at the end of the school year, along with a Christmas presentation for parents, and residents nearby assisted living facility. The school is housed in a converted barn on the old Mill Hill property, off of Route 155, near Atria Guilderland.

Having done excerpts from the Nutcracker during the Christmas performances, Gale decided it was time to try the full show.

“It’s a completely new venture,” she said.

The decision was made last spring, and Gale announced it to her students and their parents at a summer workshop presentation in July.

“It was met with great excitement, by both students and parents,” she said.

Although this will be the first time Gale has choreographed The Nutcracker, she has plenty of experience with performing it. Gale grew up in New Jersey, and began apprenticing with the Garden State Ballet at age 12. She joined the ballet company when she turned 13, and performed with Garden State until she was 16.

After leaving New Jersey, Gale moved to New York City, where she danced with the American Ballet Theater. She went back to New Jersey and freelanced for some time, before moving to the Guilderland area in 2005, which is when she started teaching at the Guilderland Ballet.

Gale’s experience performing at a young age is what motivated her to organize The Nutcracker performance for this winter.

“I remember when I was 13, being a snowflake — just being on stage, with all the lights, and the costumes — it is a feeling I will never forget,” said Gale. “I wanted to give the students a chance to have that experience. Even if they never become professional dancers, that feeling is something they will remember all their lives.”

Teaching, for Gale, is extremely rewarding.

“My favorite part is seeing a student who couldn’t manage a technical move suddenly get it,” she said. The students are so committed, and deserve more performing opportunities like this one, said Gale.

Auditions for The Nutcracker will be held on Sept. 19, and are not limited to students of the Guilderland Ballet. Dancers in the community are encouraged to try out, and that includes adults, said Gale. Rehearsals will start on weekends shortly after auditions.

“Time is of the essence,” Gale said.

A date for the performance is set for Dec. 19, although the location is not yet confirmed.

“At one time, there was a Guilderland Ballet Company. That’s kind of what I’m trying to put back together,” said Gale. “This is a step in the right direction.”

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