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Ballet is an art form in which people spend years training their bodies to perform defined and graceful movements. Ballet is a very formal dance. The movements are specific and often trace their origins back to its inception in the Italian Renaissance. But despite the formality of the movements, each step the dancer takes is fluid and light. In The Nutcracker these graceful movements are used to tell a holiday story that has captivated millions for years.

This year The Nutcracker will once again grace Cumberland County as a joint production of Leslie’s Dance Company, Cumberland County Dance Academy, Center Stage School of Performing Arts and The Dance Theatre of Fayetteville. The Nutcracker is on stage at Methodist University, which is located at 5400 Ramsey St., on Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec 7 at 3 p.m.12-3-14-nutcracker.gif

The Nutcracker follows the Christmas adventures of a young girl named Clara. After being sent to bed on Christmas Eve, Clara sneaks out to check on her favorite gift, a nutcracker, from her godfather Drosselmeyer. Suddenly, the room fills with mice and the nutcracker grows to full size. The nutcracker leads an army of gingerbread men against the mice. Clara helps the nutcracker win the battle by distracting the Mouse King. Afterwards, her beloved and wounded nutcracker, turns into a prince. He leads her into his magical kingdom, visiting the Land of Sweets where Clara’s heroism is celebrated. Then Clara and the prince are crowned rulers.

The four local schools are coming together with their best students to create this year’s performance of the classic holiday story. Leslie’s Dance Company has been operating for 30 years and offers numerous different styles of dance classes from ballet to clogging. Leslie has experience dancing professionally with Robert Joffery and The Shreveport Dance Company and is also the artistic director for The Dance Theatre of Fayetteville. The academy utilized the Countryside Gymnastics training facility located at 330 McArthur Road. Tickets for The Nutcracker can be purchased at the front desk. For more information, visit www.countrysidegym.com/#!leslies-dance-academy/c1lo1.

The Cumberland County Dance Academy is located at 3504 Masonboro Court. in Hope Mills. The Academy offers classes for children as young as three and four, and six separate options for older dancers. From ballet, to lyrical, to hip-hop the Cumberland County Dance Academy has it all. For more information, visit www.cumberlanddanceacademy.com.

Center Stage School of Performing Arts offers education in both dance and music. Center Stage, which has been operating for almost 30 years, focuses on a well-rounded dance education. Classes are not about learning a routine for a specific show. There are two locations: 411 Coldwater Dr. in Garner, N.C., and 509 Broad St. in Fuquay-Varina, N.C.. For more information visit http://centerstagegarnerfuquay.com/CSpages/aboutus.html.

The Dance Theatre of Fayetteville is a non-profit organization. Thanks to generous individuals and businesses every year, they have been able to annually produce The Nutcracker. Not only does this provide an amazing show for the community, it also helps to promote dance in the community. The Dance Theatre of Fayetteville is a ballet company specifically for young dancers to challenge themselves and to learn. It is an experience that they will carry with them for the rest of their dance careers.

Tickets are $10 for the public and $5 for students K5 through high school. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the front desk inside Countryside Gymnastics, and can also be purchased at the door. For more information visitwww.dancetheatreoffayetteville.com/About.html.

Photo: The Nutcracker is on stage at Methodist University Dec. 5-7.

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