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A tradition in Fayetteville since 1977, The Nutcracker Ballet is many things to many people. This year it has special meaning for Director Charlotte Blume and one of the guest artists, Adam Chavis.

When the North Carolina State Ballet’s Nutcracker returns to the Crown Center Theatre on Dec. 8, 14 and 15, it will be a homecoming for Chavis.

“This is a very good opportunity not only for dancers to display their talent, it also provides a performance opportunity for dancers,” said Blume. “And we do use regional dancers and guests. It provides a good show experience for the region.”

A Fayetteville native, Chavis trained with Charlotte Blume for seven years and performed various roles in The Nutcracker as a student. Chavis is like many of Blume’s students.

“They grow up at the studio; they start at early ages and spend a lot of their time at the studio,” said Blume. “To get to the level to perform, it takes a lot of years of training. The dancers become committed, and their parents do as well. It takes teamwork to create productions like The Nutcracker.”

This year, Chavis guests with Alicia Fabry as Cavalier to Fabry’s Sugar Plum Fairy. Chavis went on to study at the North Carolina School of the Arts and was an apprentice with the New York City Ballet Company before joining the Carolina Ballet in Raleigh. Both Chavis and Fabry are principal dancers with the company. They perform on Dec. 8.

Jessica Fry and Ramon Gaitan will dance the roles of Cavalier and Sugar Plum Fairy on Dec. 14 and 15.

A supporting cast of 65 dancers and actors perform in the two-act, three-scene production.

Alicia Fabry was raised in France and studied ballet at the English National Ballet School in London. She danced with the Ballet Chicago Studio Company before joining the Carolina Ballet Theatre and Pennsylvania Ballet.

Ramon Gaitan, a native of Nicaragua, began dancing at the age of 18 with the Academy of Movement and Music in Oak Park, Ill. He is a Northern Illinois University graduate with a bachelor of fine arts. Gaitan has danced with the Richmond Ballet, Ballet Theatre of Maryland and the Dayton Ballet. He is currently an independent guest artist. This is his first time dancing with the North Carolina State Ballet. Gaitan will double as the Nutcracker Prince with alternating Claras Mary Maxton and Ashley Watters.

Wei Ni, assistant director of the North Carolina State Ballet, will dance the Nutcracker Prince on Dec. 8, with Deprecia Simpson as Clara. Ni trained in China and was a principal dancer with the Carolina Ballet in Raleigh before joining the North Carolina State Ballet.

Other leading dancers in the Nutcracker are alternating Little Claras, Ella Lewis, Marissa Morris and Hannah Reader. Snow Queens are Ashley Watters or Deprecia Simpson. Flower Queens are Ashely Watters or Deprecia Simpson.

Local actor Daniel Moore returns as Drosselmeyer.

While the community looks forward to the production of The Nutcracker each holiday season, for Blume, the dancers, parents and staff, it is a labor of love that starts in late summer and requires serious commitment from everyone involved. Auditions take place in August. While Blume insists the dancers come to the auditions prepared and in top form, the real work starts once the parts have been assigned.

“We start rehearsal in September,” said Blume. “It is a big show. It is 1 hour and 45 minutes long. It is all intense dance and it has to be at a professional level. It does take a lot of rehearsal — we meet seven days a week to practice for The Nutcracker and this is separate from class time.”

Each year the dedication and practice pay off, as the performances do not disappoint.

The Nutcracker is performed for area schools on Dec. 6,9 and 13. Public performances are Dec. 8, 14 and 15. All performances are at the Crown Center Theatre. Tickets for the public performances are $16 for general admission and may be purchased at the Crown Center Box Office or at ticketmaster.com. Curtain time is 3 p.m.

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