SHARE YOUR MAGICAL MEMORIES WITH US
One of the best parts of sharing the magic of the Nutcracker in a live theatre is having the chance to interact with the audience... learning about their favorite parts of the show, hearing their appluase, and knowing that the performance brought a bit of holiday joy to those who took the time to watch it.
While we can't experience that live this year, we can still share our AT HOME memories with one another!
While you take to your couches, pop your popcorn, eat your sweets and decorate your pointe shoes, we invite you to take a few pictures of your AT HOME Nutcracker expeience to share with us!
To be included in our Virtual Watch Party album below, use the hashtags #short&suitewatchparty and #midwestdancemechanix and we'll add your special moments to our collection of Virtual 2020 memories.
Thank you again for sharing your time and your virtual memories with us... seeing your smiles will make all the work EXTRA worth it!
2020 VIRTUAL WATCH PARTY ALBUM
share your magical memories
PRESS OF THE VIRTUAL EVENT
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - It’s tradition for Midwest Dance Mechanix. Weeks of learning choreography, perfecting their technique, and being fitted for costumes to make sure their performance of a Christmas classic, The Nutcracker, is on pointe.
Two weeks before curtain call, studio owner Jana Owen learned their live performance couldn’t happen, because of Sedgwick County’s COVID-19 restrictions.
“We originally found out on a Wednesday we were not able to have it in person. And that following Saturday we were supposed to have our first costume try-on. So instead of trying on costumes that day, we filmed our entire show,” Owen said.
She refused to let her dancer’s hours of hard work go to waste. An audience would normally fill the theater at the Wichita Grand Opera to watch The Nutcracker live -- but like many other events in 2020 --it’s gone virtual this year.
You can still watch the dancers saute, pique, and pas de chat across the stage in full hair, makeup, and costumes.“We had ordered custom-made masks to match all the costumes, but they were not here by the time we were filming, so we made 86 masks in two days.”
While performing for a camera instead of an audience isn’t quite the same, Owen said the safety of her dancers and the community is her top priority. And while she hopes her dancers will get to see people in the audience again soon, there is a silver lining.
“They adjusted and changed and came together. And to me, that was a real wonderful teaching moment.”
You can buy tickets for The Nutcracker at dancemechanix.biz.
Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.
For weeks, Jana Owen had kept an eye on crowd-size limitations and planning how it would affect Midwest Dance Mechanix’ production of “The Nutcracker.”
“With 86 people in the cast, anything below 100 and we’re in trouble,” the company’s owner and director said of the performers, nearly all of whom are age 7-18. So a Saturday last month, planned to be the dress rehearsal for the cast, turned into a video recording day, with the entire 60-minute ballet completed in one take.
“In a perfect world I would have had a chance to do maybe one or two more takes, but I knew it was a really long day for the kids,” Owen said.
The results can be seen in five showings via YouTube this weekend.
“There are lots of ways for us to make the best of what is really not an ideal situation,” Owen said. “For so many people, ‘The Nutcracker’ is part of their holiday tradition, and we wanted to honor that and keep that alive as much as possible.”
For a $25 fee, families can watch the performance, which also include interviews with Owen and the cast.
Additional packages include fresh-baked sweets, T-shirts, ornaments, toys, a pointe shoe decorating kit, and a 45-minute virtual dance class and Sugarplum dance party. Recordings of the performance are also available on DVD or USB drive.
“It’s very interactive for kids,” Owen said. “We wanted to find a way to keep that magic alive for kids who were interacting, and it was really important that these kids who had been working since September to make this a possibility could show off their hard work.”
The three-camera recording took place on the stage of the Wichita Grand Opera theater, formerly Wichita Center for the Performing Arts. With a neighboring space available, two groups of 40-plus dancers kept 6 feet of distance in their performances. Everyone’s temperatures were checked, sanitizer was plentiful and dressing rooms were portioned off, she added.
And in three days, costumers created 86 masks, all of which matched the performers’ costumes.
“It really was pretty incredible,” Owen said.
Owen said she was proud of the teamwork among her dancers. A couple were injured, and a few others were under quarantine. Other performers learned their parts the day of the recording.
The Sugar Plum Fairy, a Midwest Dance Mechanix alum currently majoring in dance at SUNY-Purchase College in New York, wasn’t able to return in time for the recording.
Midwest Dance Mechanix has staged “Nutcracker” every year since it opened in 2010. In the past three years it has evolved into what it calls a “Short and Suite Nutcracker,” editing the ballet down to about an hour. She shared the choreography duties with Stan Rogers, formerly of Friends University.
Owen said she is proud of the finished product, even though it came with 2 ½ fewer weeks of rehearsal than usual.
“It is probably not our most technical ‘Nutcracker’ that we’ve ever done, but I’m absolutely the proudest of it because of all the hard work all the way around to make it happen,” she said.
She was particularly impressed with the youngest dancers, many on stage for the first time.
“I couldn’t be prouder of their conduct both on-stage and off-stage,” Owen said. “I was very, very impressed with them that day. It was a proud teacher moment.”
Owen also felt bolstered by the support of the families of the dancers and their willingness to help and be flexible.
“That has given me more of a sense of holiday spirit than anything,” she said. “That made me say, ‘This is important to many families.’”