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The Nutcracker gets a gentle twist


November 21, 2018

Courtesy photo

The Longmont Symphony in conjunction with the Boulder Ballet presents three performances of The Nutcracker Ballet on Dec 1 and 2. For the first year, a Gentle Nutcracker (a sensory-friendly version of the production), will take place at 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1.

A collaboration of the Boulder Ballet with the Longmont Symphony Orchestra (LSO) usually signals the heartwarming end-of-the-year classic, The Nutcracker Ballet. Along with what we’ve come to expect, there will now be the addition of an extra-special show at 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1 when performers will host the Gentle Nutcracker, a sensory-friendly production that will be welcoming to all audience members.

Tchaikovsky’s musical score is synonymous with the story of “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” which takes place in the early 1800s on Christmas Eve. The dream of Clara, the young heroine, is a tale that generations of theater goers have made a family tradition every holiday season.

But it isn’t always easy for everyone to be in the audience. People who are challenged by sitting still, bright lights, or loud noises, or who aren’t able to be perfectly quiet are often discouraged to go to performances in general. LSO is offering this unique performance for the first time this year in order to give everyone the ability to feel the healing and affirmative power of music and dance.

“The idea was a long time coming because Longmont Symphony is so much about community in a very inclusive way,” Giorgia Ghizzoni, incoming LSO executive director said. “The Boulder Ballet had experience already with a similar production and they suggested we partner on this idea.”

What makes this a sensory-friendly show is that the performance will be shorter, just around an hour long. Volunteers have been trained to welcome all types of differently-abled patrons so they can enjoy the performance in a way that’s meaningful to them. Lights will be dimmed to a lesser degree than usual, and the more boisterous scenes of the play will be cut out, making it a very positive themed story. There’s also a quiet room outside of the theater where anyone may go to take a breath if they become overwhelmed.

“The rules of the game and the code of conduct are incredibly different from your average production,” Ghizzoni said. “Sound from the audience is going to be welcome and encouraged in that we truly believe emoting and reacting out loud or with movement in a genuine way to the music is something that is really primal in us. It’s incredibly heartwarming and rewarding to see how music can touch everybody.”

According to Ghizzoni, LSO has already heard wonderful feedback from people who are excited about the upcoming show, especially from parents who have said their children were never able to attend a performance before. Ghizzoni said this is just the beginning and there will be more productions like this by LSO.

Prior to the production, at 12:15 p.m., there will be a musical instrument demonstration in the lobby.


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