The Nutcracker

Local students from the Killeen-based Texas Metropolitan Ballet Academy rehearse recently for the “The Nutcracker.” Performances in Killeen will be 2 and 7 p.m. on Dec. 15 and 2 p.m. Dec. 16.

Students from the Killeen-based Texas Metropolitan Ballet Academy are ready to perform “The Nutcracker” at the Killeen Arts & Activity Center and the Temple Cultural Activities Center next month. Academy students auditioned for both shows in early September.

The family-friendly dance studio offers professional ballet training. Dancers of all ages are welcome.

Since 2016, the local ballet school has brought this classic holiday performance to Killeen.

“The Nutcracker is a ballet that readily offers roles for even the youngest of dancers,” said assistant director Jeanne Marie Marks. “Dancers often grow up performing the ballet and, with each part they are cast in each year, they can often gauge their progress. Young dancers often start off as reindeer or angels and aspire to dance as a party boy or girl or dance as a ginger snap,

“If they’ve gained those roles, they watch the older dancers carefully and hope to someday be granted the role of a doll in the party scene, a snowflake, or a mirliton or, even some day, the Sugar Plum Fairy. It’s kind of like the ballet world’s version of the report card and graduating,” Marks said.

Preparation for the annual performance required an extensive amount of time for all dancers and their families. On top of their academy classes, selected dancers attended weekend rehearsals from Sept. 8 thru Nov. 17.

“Depending on the dancer’s level, between classes and rehearsals, these young students dedicate anywhere from six hours to 18 hours or more a week. Many of our dancers also volunteer their time to help with the KidZ Pro classes provided by KidZ Therapeze for their young patients with special needs,” Marks said.

Academically, dancers range from elementary school to college. Academy students dedicate their free time to their upcoming performances. Due to their hard work, many will enjoy a break this Thanksgiving weekend, officials said.

“Our students did so well in their run-through that we are able to give them this Saturday off,” said Randall Marks, the director.

Although dancers are ready to enchant their audience, students and staff are still faced with theater preparations. The academy will set up the Killeen Arts & Activity Center and the Temple Cultural Activity Center for the presentations in the coming weeks. Both centers come with their own benefits and challenges.

“The Killeen Arts & Activities Center provides the sound and lighting equipment, but we have to man it ourselves. They have a great staff that is willing to answer our many questions and help us out where they can,” Marks said.

“The Temple Cultural Activities Center fortunately provides sound, lighting and recording crew and some of the backdrops are provided via a scrim they have that can have images projected onto it,” Marks said.

“Each year we have parents and friends who volunteer their time and abilities to help with various tasks that help to keep the production running smoothly. ... This is something that adds to the magic of Nutcracker. The audience sees one smooth production, because all these people have come together to dedicate their talents, often anonymously, behind the scenes,” Marks said.

The first three productions are 2 and 7 p.m. on Dec. 1 and 2 p.m. on Dec. 2 in Temple at 3011 N. 3rd St. Admission for children, 18 and under, is $7. Adults are $10.

The last three productions are 2 and 7 p.m. on Dec. 15 and 2 p.m. Dec. 16 in Killeen at 801 N. 4th St. Children admission is $10 for 18 and under. Adult tickets are $17.

“This year’s Nutcracker will have some new choreography ... We also have some new costumes and we were fortunate to be able purchase a new growing tree,” Marks said.

A limited amount of green room VIP tickets are available for the Dec. 15 evening show at 7 p.m. VIP tickets include light hors d’ouvres provided by Let Us Do The Cooking, nonalcoholic drinks, a backstage tour, souvenir photo and a chance to meet the director. VIP tickets are $45.

Tickets can be purchased at

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