I was in Florida last weekend to see my son, Andrew and his Guilfoil Ballet Theater Academy of Dance perform Nutcracker for the Winter Wonderland in downtown Clearwater. Winter Wonderland is an annual outdoor & free event that provides a wonderful opportunity for families, no matter how poor, to celebrate the holidays.
There were all sorts of free events including a petting zoo and a giant inflated slide for kids. Of course Santa was there – little ones were perched on his knee while eager parents snapped photos of those little cheerful (hopefully) faces. There was even a small train available so families could take a quick trip around the city block to see the downtown Christmas lights.
The Nutcracker Ballet is an eagerly anticipated event for local people every year. It’s such a magical performance done under a moon & starlit sky – people love it and come from all over the area to fill the rows of folding chairs placed in front of the stage. On this particular night, people were standing in the aisles and even spilling out into the parking lot by the time Tchaikovsky’s familiar musical score signaled that Nutcracker had begun.
We got there early enough to secure third row seats. This made it possible for me to see the audience around me as well gave a great view of the stage. I cannot describe to you the thrill I felt in watching the joyful faces of children and adults alike as they sat all around me, faces aglow in the moonlight of an open sky, eyes upturned and mesmerized by the awesome grace & passion of these beautiful dancers. They twirled and leaped across stage in their wonderful costumes, dancing the pirouettes and pas de bourrée’s of a fully staged Nutcracker Christmas Ballet. Tears filled my eyes more than once from pure joy.
On stage there was one tiny dancer, maybe she was four, who could not contain her own joy and appreciation at having an audience. At one point, as a flawless pas de deux was being executed on center stage, this enthusiastic little prima ballenina proceeded to curtsy and blow kisses to her adoring fans in the crowd. She brought the house down. Her exuberance & joy in sharing herself with others was infectious! Her shiny face continues to fill my heart with joy. Christmas is a season designed for such love & laughter as that inspired by this little dancer.
May you experience the true joy of Christmas! Blessings, Lynne