The Chat­tanooga Bal­let pre­sents 'The Nutcracker’ at the Tivoli Theatre.

Bob Wil­lie to be hon­ored at Satur­day night’s per­for­mance

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E.T. A. Hoff­man’s clas­sic tale of a Christ­mas Eve dream in which a Nutcracker Prince bat­tles a Mouse King will be pre­sented in three per­for­mances by Chat­tanooga Bal­let on Satur­day and Sun­day, Dec. 8-9, in the Tivoli Theatre.

Th­ese per­for­mances of “The Nutcracker” have more than 200 per­form­ers spread across three casts. Chore­og­ra­phy and stag­ing are by An­drew Parker with Caro­line Blair, Dil­lon Davis, Amanda Pat­ton, Saman­tha Sole, Bob Wil­lie and Joellen Wo­ji­tow­icx. The dancers will per­form to tracks — one of the first pro­duc­tions to use the Tivoli’s new sur­round- sound sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to spokesman John Far­ri­mond.

Chat­tanooga Bal­let will be joined by guest artists Ri­cardo Rhodes as the Sugar Plum Cav­a­lier and Jonathan Hyde as Herr Drosselmeyer.

The role of Clara Sil­ber­haus has been dou­ble-cast with Frances Crowe and Emily Black­well.

Com­pany artists danc­ing prin­ci­pal roles are: Caro­line Blair, Marzi­pan, Rose Queen; Dil­lon David, Snow King; Kirsten Hyde, Snow Queen, Sugar Plum Fairy; Saman­tha Sole, Snow Queen, Sugar Plum Fairy; and Nena Widt­feldt, Marzi­pan, Rose Queen.

For t his week­end’s per­for­mances, Park has reimag­ined the role of Herr Drosselmeyer and cre­ated new chore­og­ra­phy for the trans­for­ma­tion scene and the tableau at the end of Act 1.

Dil­lon Davis cre­ated new chore­og­ra­phy for the Span­ish dance. The open­ing party scene has also been re­worked and fresh­ened, says Far­ri­mond.

This week­end’s per­for­mances of “The Nutcracker” are sig­nif­i­cant to Chat­tanooga Bal­let, not just be­cause they mark the 31st year the com­pany has pre- sented the hol­i­day clas­sic, but be­cause they mark the end of the Bob Wil­lie era as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

Af­ter 32 years as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Wil­lie is step­ping down and pass­ing his ba­ton to Parker, the com­pany’s artis­tic di­rec­tor. Wil­lie will as­sume the ti­tle of di­rec­tor emer­i­tus. He will be hon­ored at the Satur­day evening per­for­mance.

Un­der his lead­er­ship, Chat­tanooga Bal­let be­gan hir­ing full-time pro­fes­sion- al dancers. He in­spired the con­cept of a “home for the bal­let,” which in 2006, re­sulted in the Wil­liam L. Mon­tague Jr. Cen­ter for the Dance. Wil­lie and So­nia Young raised funds to pur­chase and ren­o­vate the fa­cil­ity for Chat­tanooga Bal­let’s use.

In his sec­ond sea­son, Chat­tanooga Bal­let pre­sented its first pro­duc­tion of “The Nutcracker,” which has since played to more than 360,000 peo­ple over the past 30 years. He per­son­ally raised fund­ing for the con­struc­tion of sets and cos­tumes for the pro­duc­tion.

He has served as pro­duc­tion man­ager for all of Chat­tanooga Bal­let’s pro­duc­tions since his ar­rival in Chat­tanooga. He de­vel­oped artis­tic col­lab­o­ra­tions with the Chat­tanooga Theatre Cen­tre, Chat­tanooga Girls Choir, The Dis­mem­bered Ten­nesseans, Cho­ral Arts of Chat­tanooga, the Hunter Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art and Chat­tanooga Sym­phony & Opera.

In 2004, Wil­lie was hon­ored by the Ten­nessee As­so­ci­a­tion of Dance with the Mar­garet Martin Award for dis­tin­guished ser­vice and out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the art of dance in Ten­nessee.

He has served as pres­i­dent of Ten­nesseans for the Arts, chair­man of the Ten­nessee Arts Com­mis­sion’s Theatre Grant Panel, pres­i­dent of the Ten­nessee As­so­ci­a­tion of Dance and as a pan­elist for the South­ern Arts Fed­er­a­tion/Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Arts.


“Waltz of the Flow­ers” from “The Nutcracker.”

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