Macon native Alice Strawn Sheridan dreamed of dancing ballet since she was 8 years old.
Today, amid the hustle and bustle of heading the 33rd annual production of “The Nutcracker of Middle Georgia” at The Grand Opera House, does she step back and think, “Wow! This is ballet! We’re doing it!?”
And doing it in grand style?
“Oh, absolutely,” she said. “I just said to my husband, Tino, ‘I can’t believe it. It’s here. We get to perform “The Nutcracker!” It’s such a huge part of the ballet world and a chance for dancers young and old to grow. It’s a thrill seeing my dancers grow and advance from part to part year by year.”
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Sheridan’s path from her early love of dance went from local lessons to the North Carolina School of Arts, training with world-renowned teachers, two summers performing in Italy, years dancing with the Milwaukee Ballet, and then back to Macon to teach other dance dreamers. That’s meant 29 years with Dance Arts Studio, being a founding faculty member of the Middle Georgia Youth Ballet plus 20 years as assistant director with Nutcracker of Middle Georgia Inc.
This year, she was appointed artistic director to lead the production, taking the reins from her mentor Jean Evans Weaver, the longtime teacher-owner of the studio who started the local production and brought it from modest beginnings in 1985 to a spectacular holiday experience.
“It’s really a magical for performers and audiences,” Sheridan said. “We’re blessed to have such an amazing production year after year and such a beautiful place to enjoy it at the Grand Opera House. I have so many dance friends on Facebook who see pictures and can’t get over our costumes, the scenery, the whole production.
“I don’t think there’s a community our size that does anything like it. It’s a wonderful part of the Christmas season here offering such a magical story and evening — dreams coming true.”
Sheridan said “The Nutcracker’s” endearment to the community comes through 120 nonprofessional, local children and adult cast members and roughly 80 behind-the-scenes production volunteers. This year, there are six professional performers from across the country bringing their magic as well.
Together, she said, they give the Christmas ballet a life of its own each performance, one she doesn’t hesitate to again describe by saying, “It magical.”
Contact Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.
Where: The Grand Opera House, 651 Mulberry St.
When: Evening performances 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6-9; matinee performances 2:30 p.m. Dec. 9-10
Cost: $12-$27 based on age, seating and performance
Information: www.midganutcracker.com, 478-301-5470