Charlottesville Ballet’s classical kickback

Locals of all ages gather for third annual Beer and Ballet event

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Performers from the Charlottesville Ballet previewed "The Nutcracker" and shared other dances for the crowd at the Beer and Ballet event. 

Sarah Howorth | Cavalier Daily

Champion Brewing Company hosted a classy kickback for Charlottesville Ballet in its outdoor venue Saturday. Sitting on the outskirts of Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, Champion Brewing Company’s numerous wooden tables sit underneath intertwined bulb lights and the color-streaked trees of autumn, serving as the ideal setting to enjoy Charlottesville Ballet’s third annual Beer and Ballet event. 

Locals were welcome to enjoy both pilsners and pirouettes while contributing to the Ballet through food and drink proceeds as well as purchased raffle tickets. Winners had the honor of earning entry to the Company’s holiday performance of “The Nutcracker” and becoming the proud new owners of Charlottesville Ballet pint glasses. Despite the flowing of craft beer, the event welcomed an audience of all ages and encouraged the attendance of beloved family pets. An outdoor play area and interactive lessons from some of the featured ballerinas created a child-friendly atmosphere that was a toned-down version of the gameday madness on-Grounds.

This event was a way for the youth of Charlottesville to enjoy the arts in a fun and visually-stimulating manner, as well as an opportunity for the community to become familiar with the local Charlottesville Ballet. As a professional academy with over 600 students and 25 artists operating internationally, the company is triumphing during its 12th season of dance. 

In addition to expansion, the Ballet also focuses on community outreach and involvement. The Chance to Dance program sends dancers into Albemarle County Public Schools to teach children dance and instill in them a passion for the art of ballet. Currently, the company and its dedicated members are working on their upcoming production of “The Nutcracker.” Attendees of this event saw a sneak peek from the cast, who presented themselves with an air of perfection and delicate movement despite only having a few weeks of practice completed.

As the large crowd packed the venue and munched on the abundance of pretzels and beer cheese, everyone went silent as the first ballerina took to the stage. Dressed in devastatingly black tulle, she glided across the floor to a piano arrangement with a Charlottesville spin. The piece was a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Rosemary” and “Dark Star,” as interpreted by the gifted accompanist.

Next came a classic number from the first act of Swan Lake, a pas de trois featuring the music of Tchaikovsky. Kids mimicking the graceful movements of each dancer moved through the crowd, and all were mesmerized by the beauty each dancer espoused. This performance was followed by the much-awaited preview of “The Nutcracker.” 

Gem-encrusted outfits dotted the small stage and a red-ribbon soared through the air in a spiral, guided by the powerful hand of the ballerina performing. In December, the Charlottesville Ballet dancers will tour all across the state to perform 11 holiday shows. The praise and positive reaction of the onlookers who viewed the three Nutcracker sneak peeks are a promising testament to the show’s eventual success and acclaim.

The last performance was an original work developed by a member of the Charlottesville Ballet, which took place in a mythical universe full of sprites and nymphs. Five female dancers stepped onstage, each sporting a different colored dress. They proceeded to dance around each other, weaving in and out of formation in an enthralling presentation of fairy-like behavior. This coordinated performance signaled the end of the show, but the audience was welcome to stay for another rendition of the same acts. Needless to say, many of them did.

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