TUPELO — Tupelo Ballet's annual "The Nutcracker" performance will see its 40th annual iteration Dec. 3-4 at Tupelo High School's Performing Arts Center.
Tickets for the Tupelo performing arts tradition are available at tupeloballet.com starting at $20.
"The Nutcracker" has a longstanding tradition in Tupelo. The first of its shows premiered in 1982. In addition to the "Nutcracker" celebrating its 40th year, Tupelo Ballet, the dance company that will perform the Christmas show, is also turning 40 this year.
"This is the 40th anniversary of 'The Nutcracker' in addition to the company itself," said Tupelo Ballet artistic director Sharon Long. "The company started in 1982."
As for this year's ballet performance, Long said there will be changes to some choreography and blocking that will add new life to the show.
This year's show will feature two sixth grade students who will perform the role of Clara in the four 2022 installments of "The Nutcracker.'
Hart Beavers and Millie Mathis both attend sixth grade a Milam Elementary School in Tupelo. Their special roles this year have been a dream come true for both girls.
"Dancing as Clara in 'The Nutcracker' has always been my dream as a ballerina," Mathis said. "When we started rehearsals, I realized what a big responsibility and commitment it takes," the pre-teen dancer said.
Mathis will also dance alongside her three sisters in this year's production of the Christmas ballet.
Hart Beavers is also excited to take on the iconic role in two of this year's four productions.
"It's been a very exciting role," Beavers said. "I've watched 'The Nutcracker' for as long as I can remember, and having the opportunity to be Clara in the 40th anniversary show is extra special and a dream come true," she said.
For Beavers, the role has been challenging due to new choreography this year, but she thanks her dance instructors for their help in mastering her performance.
The cast of "The Nutcracker" has been rehearsing since September. In addition to the many ballerinas taking the stage next weekend, the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra will also be in attendance to provide live accompaniment for the performances.
Even though this year will see four performances of "The Nutcracker" instead of three, tickets are still selling quickly despite more shows.
"The matinee is just about sold out," Long said.
"The kids are working so hard. It's become a traditional staple of the holiday season for Tupelo," said Long. "I have new associate directors Paul and Megan Tillman. Between the three of us, we have been working really hard," the dance instructor said.
Long said this year has made her realize how blessed she has been to do this for 40 years.
"It's surreal for me," Long said. "To get the comments on Facebook from former students living in New York City and all over the United States that Tupelo Ballet and 'The Nutcracker' meant so much to them when they were doing it, it still comes full circle," she said.