The news was bittersweet: “No Nutcracker.”
A long-time Huntsville tradition and its host organization – Huntsville Ballet Company – are the latest victims of the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 has struck deep and wide within performing arts communities nationwide and, despite the sense of protective insulation, Huntsville-Madison Country organizations are also taking a major hit.
At a recent news conference, The Community Ballet Association/Huntsville Ballet Company announced, in consideration of the health and safety of patrons, dancers, students, and staff, they are cancelling all performances and events for 2020.
It was a difficult and agonizing decision to make.
“As you can imagine, this is a sad, challenging time for everybody,” said Phillip Otto, the Ballet Company’s Artistic Director. “Unfortunately, the Huntsville Ballet cannot survive without grants and ticket revenue from performances.”
In their 12th season with the Huntsville Ballet, Otto and his wife, Ballet Mistress and School Director Rachel Butler, have spent a little over a decade developing the company into what it is today.
“It’s been a long road,” said Otto. “We’ve worked really hard to get to this point.”
Huntsville Ballet is one of only four professional ballet companies in Alabama. Founded in 1964, the company brought the highest caliber of dance and performing ballets, such as “The Nutcracker,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Firebird” and “Sleeping Beauty.”
Each year, students at the Huntsville Ballet school get the chance to audition and perform with the ballet company in “The Nutcracker,” a time-honored Huntsville holiday tradition. A lot of hard work, rehearsal, and sweat equity go into preparing for that opportunity.
This year will be very different. For the first time in 51 years, “The Nutcracker” will not be presented.
“It’s hard because we’re not preparing for shows, so we don’t have something to work towards,” said dancer Ashley Jordan. “So, we’re just having to push each other. That helps a lot. Just knowing that what we do is something that we love to do.
Huntsville Ballet’s mission is to use the power of dance to inspire and nurture the art of classical ballet through artistic excellence, performance experiences, and outreach activities in the community.
Huntsville Ballet Company relies entirely on grants, donations, sponsorships and ticket revenue from performances. To help keep Huntsville Ballet viable, they have developed a fundraising campaign called “Bridge the Ballet” and has set up a GoFundMe page. Help Bridge the Ballet to a Brighter Future: