Chantell Pritchett, owner of Four Sisters Cake & Company, assists BRBT dancers ahead of "Cookies with Clara." Photo by Jordan Hefler.

A sugar-coated celebration: Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre brings a whole new ‘Nutcracker’ experience

COVID-19 can’t cancel this holiday favorite. This year, the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre’s beloved Nutcracker tale is interactive and takes place from the comfort of your own home. 

Nutcracker Sweets, a three-part virtual Zoom series, is set for 2 p.m. on November 15, November 29 and December 13, taking the place of the organization’s traditional performances of The Nutcracker: A Tale from the Bayou. Without setting foot in a theater or a dance studio, children will be able to watch and learn some of the ballet’s favorite performances as taught by company dancers. Each event will be led by a storyteller and will end with crafts and treats.

“We want Baton Rouge children to be able to experience the beauty and the majesty of our Nutcracker,” says BRBT artistic director Molly Buchmann. “Every arts organization is struggling right now. The whole entertainment industry is, but your performing arts organizations are usually nonprofit and so they struggle for ticket sales and donations and also keeping a viable audience interested in what they’re doing.”

Each online installment focuses on a new lesson. In the first, “Cookies with Clara,” the central character Clara will teach participants her dances from the family’s holiday party scene; afterward, Clara will decorate four sugar cookies alongside viewers, who will receive all of the cookie elements in advance as part of their ticket purchase. The culinary inspiration for this episode comes from the recent tradition of having the girls performing the role of Clara distribute cookies to the children in the cast, Buchmann says. Along with colored icing and sprinkles, viewers will be provided already-baked cookies from Baton Rouge-based Four Sisters Cake & Company.

In the second episode, “Ballet and Bonbons,” participants will learn several dances from the Land of the Sweets scene and dance with the Spanish dancers and the Bonbon dancers.  Viewers will also decorate Spanish fans and make a bonbon necklace, and each ticket holder will also receive sweet treats from Raw Sugar Toffee.

During the final installment, dubbed “Sugar Plum Soiree,” guest artist Casey Dalton, who has performed as the company’s Sugar Plum Fairy, will appear and teach her memorable solo dance. Viewers will also have fun decorating their very own pointe shoe. 

Adults and out-of-town viewers can choose to “Share Your Sweets” by opting out of the craft and treat packages and having them donated to local organizations that support underserved members of the Baton Rouge community.

Nutcracker Sweets event tickets may be purchased as a series for $125 or separately for $45 each. Treat and craft packages to accompany each episode will be available for pickup at the BRBT studios.