by Ali Lindenfeld
Since 1992, The Community Nutcracker has been delighting audiences of all ages with its annual holiday production of the Nutcracker Ballet. Performed by more than 4,300 local and 36 professionals in 95 live, full-length performances, the Community Nutcracker brings out the whimsical culture of Christmas through childlike imagination and artistry, but it is the impact to the community that many may be unfamiliar with.
In the past 25 years, more than $600,000 has been donated to various nonprofits in Northeast Florida, including its main beneficiary for the past twelve years, Dreams Come True of Jacksonville. Through their partnership, more than 50 local children have seen their dreams fulfilled from the proceeds raised during the annual production. Dreams have ranged from week-long trips to Walt Disney World to tropical getaways to shopping adventures and even sailing the high seas.
“For more than 33 years we have been able to bring hope and joy to local children and their families because of our community partners,” stated Andrea Siracusa, Senior Manager for Dreams Come True. “It is through the generosity and talents of volunteers with the Community Nutcracker that Jacksonville is given the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful, artistic production, while knowing that an investment is being made back into the community.”
As part of their dedication to Northeast Florida, over 2,000 free tickets are issued city-wide each year through the Community Nutcracker. More than 4,000 school children from area schools are also provided the opportunity to see the performance during one of two school productions.
Together with its main sponsors, Community First Credit Union as the 2017 Principal Sponsor and Nimnicht Family of Dealerships as the Community Service Night Sponsor as well as many other amazing donors, the Community Nutcracker continues to produce a performance using over 250 local and talented dancers ranging in age from 9 years old to 85.
The Community Nutcracker and Dreams Come True are such important efforts” said John Hirabayashi, CEO and president of Community First. “We’re proud to help continue the tradition of this treasured local performance that supports the dreams of performers as well as those in need.”
Joining the production this year for the principal roles, is Yinet Fernandez and Jorge Villirani from the acclaimed Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Directed by the talents of three artistic directors Dulce Anaya (Dulce Anaya School of Ballet), Debbie Rankin (Baggs Studio) and Mark Spivak (Mark Spivak Dance Extension & Institute), plus two new choreographers Heather Loveland (Heather Loveland Dance Academy) and Suzanne Saltmarsh (Saltmarsh Dance), the Community Nutcracker is scheduled for Friday, December 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. as well as Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., at the Florida Theatre. For more information and tickets, visit www.jaxnutcracker.org.
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