Annual ‘Nutcracker’ ballet returning to Columbia

The Nutcracker performance is once again coming to the Columbia Theatre. 

nutcracker dance

Andrea Faria and Daniel Benavides will perform
as guest artists with the Hammond Ballet
Company for the upcoming Nutcracker

Courtesy of the Hammond Ballet Company

Hammond Ballet has been producing The Nutcracker in Hammond for nearly two decades. This will be their 18th production, and they are continuing to hold the community’s rapt interest. 

The backdrops, props and costumes all hold similarities to the national level productions of The Nutcracker; Artistic Director Janey Neyrey also adapts choreography each year to the dancers’ ability and adds in new characters, costumes and props as well. Her husband, Shawn Neyrey, builds the props for the show; some of his creations include the Ice Queen’s white swan and the walnut boat. 

Dancers are sometimes given multiple roles depending on their availability and the expertise of each performer. The casting has become a family event in the past; parents are cast in adult roles and have multiple children performing in the show with them. The Hammond Ballet has no public funding or private sponsors, so parents who volunteer are crucial to the production and fundraiser tea. 

The production’s performers are students of the Hammond Ballet Company, with dancers being as young as four years old.

“They look so cute in their costumes, dancing on stage. These are kids that people know in the community, so everyone comes to see them,” said Roy Blackwood, Columbia Theatre’s interim director.

Along with the students of the Hammond Ballet Company, Andrea Marciel de Faria and Daniel Benavides, two professional dancers, will perform in The Nutcracker this year. 

Benavides is from Anaheim, California and joined the Orlando Ballet Company in 2006. He is returning for his second performance with Hammond Ballet, his first time was in 2012, when he  also performed in their production. Faria was born in Brazil and has since traveled to Germany and continued her studies under the tutelage of Hans-Joachim Tappendorf. She has performed as the female lead in productions, such as Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella in Cinderella. This will be her third year performing The Nutcracker with Hammond Ballet.

“It’s every little ballerina’s dream to be Clara in the Nutcracker one day. I was surprised yet honored when my dream came true,” said Eva Delatte, this year’s Clara. “With Christmas magic and love in my own heart, I will transform myself into the little girl who believed in Christmas magic and saved her beloved Nutcracker.” 

The Nutcracker performance will be Dec. 12-13, at 7 p.m. Tickets are now available or can be purchased at the door.