Modern twist given to traditional ballet in local fundraiser
Toast to the Nutcracker, traditional story with a modern and jazzy twist, will ring in the holiday season with performances at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, at Sentry’s Theater@1800, 1800 North Point Drive, Stevens Point.
Tickets will be $30 for adults and $20 for students for the evening show, and $15 and $10 for the Sunday show. Tickets are available at the door, in advance by phone 715-498-2339, or online at www.cwtickets.com.
Doors will open at 6 p.m. Saturday for an evening of food, hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar and the art, jewelry and purse adoption center.
Toast to the Arts, presented by Team Schierl Companies, Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Sentry Insurance, is an annual fundraiser supporting the Community Foundation Arts and Culture Mission Fund by providing annual grants to nonprofit art and culture organizations throughout Portage County.
“The idea for Toast to the Nutcracker was created from a conversation between Pamela Luedtke and myself,” said Bill Schierl, the co-CEO of Team Schierl Companies. “Pamela was interested in expanding a concept to promote artistic collaboration between the local area dance schools, community theater, and youth and arts organizations. She wanted to do a full length Nutcracker with a jazz twist. Pamela’s vision of staging a jazz version was fantastic and allowed for a live jazz orchestra accompaniment.”
Toast to the Nutcracker will include performances from more than 150 dancers and 13 local organizations. The production will also include stage hands, technical support and a live orchestra.
“Toast to the Nutcracker brings together an entirely new group of people who may have not previously connected,” Schierl said. “It connects not only the artistic performers but also the general public and local youth organizations. The event exposes them to a different medium of expression and entertainment. Events like this help us to continue the efforts to grow the long term financial endowment fund supporting arts and culture in our community.”
Toast to the Nutcracker will tell that traditional Nutcracker story, but it will take place in 2015 and will be set to music from Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s Nutcracker Suite. The music will be performed by the Central Wisconsin Jazz Ensemble, an offshoot of the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra.
The dance performances will include everything from traditional ballroom and ballet to modern, contemporary and even belly dancing.
Luedtke said even though this is the second time she has directed Toast to the Nutcracker, it still took nearly nine months to plan the production. Toast to the Nutcracker will be performed every other year, and Luedtke said it will be a little bit different every year depending on which organizations are involved.
“There is a huge variety in how we are approaching this show,” said Luedtke. “We have a fraternity portraying our soldiers doing to street dance, referred to as step dance. Very rhythmic.”
On the Nutcracker’s off years, Luedtke still directs Toast to the Arts, which is a fundraiser for the same cause, just with a different theme.
“Team Schierl Companies is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts community. When I collaborated with Pamela on the concept of the Nutcracker, it was an honor for Team Schierl Companies to become and remain a major sponsor and organizer of the event,” said Schierl.
Organizations involved in the performance include students from the Performing School of the Arts, the Boys & Girls Club of Portage County, the Point Dance Ensemble and the Pacelli Poms Group.