The Nutcracker with an Irish Twist | Arts & Culture
A Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life, and the Nutcracker are all holiday favorites. And each has different variations, but the Fitness Arts Center in Madison is taking this Christmas Classic Celtic.
There is only one performance of the Irish Nutcracker. It's happening December 16th at 2pm at the Columbia High School Theatre.
Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 the day of. Online ticket sales, or call 1-800-514-3849 to purchase over the phone. No in-person sales. Tickets can be purchased online at www.FitnessArtsCenter.com.
I was able to communicate with the Fitness Arts Center Director Brandan Newman, and Brandan tells me there are more than 30 dancers ages 4 through adult that are performing in this original piece.
The concept, storyline and choreography were all created by Brandan. She decided to put together a production that has never been seen before in the Madison/Huntsville area. The Irish Nutcracker is very unique because it uses Irish step dancing and Celtic music through it. The storyline has been changed to reflect the Irish culture and folklore.
Brandan held audition in May and started rehearsing in July for this show. The Nutcracker is now a female character and instead of mice, there are Evil Little Leprechauns that cause havoc. The Land of Sweets has turned into the Tír na nÓg or Land of Youth. Tír na nÓg is a mythical land, a paradise, where youth is eternal and music, strength, life and all pleasurable pursuits come together. Instead of various sweets presenting a dance as in the original ballet, they have unique Irish themed characters that come and dance for Claire and the Nutcracker such as Peppermint Paddies, a Claddagh, Roses of Tralee, a Rainbow, and Butterflies just to name a few. Brandan has even replaced the original Sugar Plum Fairy with her very own unique Irish Cream Fairy.
Take a sneak peak from the playbill:
The curtain opens to reveal guests travelling through town on their way to the Dempsey’s house, where a Christmas Eve céilí is under way. Claire, along with her bratty older sister Fiona, Mother, and Granny are celebrating with friends and family from their Irish dance school.
After the celebration ends and Claire has fallen asleep, evil little Leprechauns come out to play. After a fight between the Leprechauns and Soldierettes, Claire and the Nutcracker are ushered to Tír na nÓg with the help of fairies and a dragon. Upon their initial exploration, Claire and the Nutcracker discover everything that Tír na nÓg has to offer - all things which represent Ireland.
This is a family event that people of all ages would enjoy. It’s a great way to be entertained and everyone loves watching the babies stumble around on stage all the way up through the teens to see how they’ve progressed over the years. It’s also great for adults to see other adult dancers in that they typically think, “Hey – if that person can do it and they are around my age, maybe I can actually do it too!” Dance, and Irish dance in particular is wonderful for the public to view because it helps share the cultural aspect of Ireland in addition to the artistic aspect.
Brandan talks a little about the importance of dancing, "Dance provides a creative outlet for my students. In addition to that, my students spend so much time at the studio taking classes and rehearsing that they develop very strong bonds with each other and learn how to work together as a team. For many, their best friends are their dance teammates. They learn responsibility and accountability because I require them to practice outside of class so they are prepared on class day. They have learned that dance is very physical, and realize the importance of maintaining a healthy body so they can perform the intricate choreography. Several of our dancers are on our performance team, and they’ve grown out of their shyness and have gained a lot of self-confidence through performing for the public year round. "
Ms. Brandan Newman started Irish dancing professionally at the age of 17. She has danced with various professional companies in Las Vegas, and with famous artists such as Frank Patterson, The Wild Celtic Boys, and Paul Anka. Brandan has performed in many of the popular Las Vegas venues such as the Bellagio, House of Blues, Venetian, and New York New York, just to name a few!
In addition to Irish dance, Brandan has trained extensively in ballet and ballroom dance. During her youth, she performed with the Las Vegas Civic Ballet. Furthermore, Brandan has a B.S. in Elementary Education from UNLV and is a former school teacher.
Brandan has been teaching the art of dance for the past 12 years and is ecstatic to share her talents with the Huntsville/Madison area. In 2011, she won a scholarship to the Dance Life Teacher and Owner summer conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Brandan's students submitted video essays to nominate her, and the general public and sponsoring businesses voted for their favorite videos. Brandan was the only winner from Alabama and also the only winning Irish dance teacher!