Caitlin Smith loves a challenge.
That’s one of the reasons she spends nearly a dozen hours a week in classes and rehearsals with the Findlay Academy of Ballet.
“Ballet pushes you,” said Smith, 14, a home-schooled eighth grader from Findlay. “It’s hard and when you finally get something it feels really good and it’s a big accomplishment.”
That hard work pays off this month as Smith and other local dancers share the stage with professional dancers as part of “A 1940s Nutcracker” at the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts. It will be presented at 8pm December 16 and 3pm December 17.
Presented with a Findlay flavor
The holiday classic, presented by Neos Dance Theatre, will offer tradition with a twist. Instead of being set at the turn of the 19th century, the story is set in 1940s Findlay. Parts of this Nutcracker will have a Findlay focus, from the tire-making riveters to the traditional Chinese Tea Dance, to the ladies who lunch as the delightful Mirlitons.
It’s a familiar mix that Neos first brought to Findlay in 2012. Now, with a larger production on a larger stage, Findlay audiences will recognize even more local history. Ohio Oil, the old Harris Theatre, Patterson’s Department Store and other places play their own roles as backdrops to the tale.
“It was a time that America embraced what we now consider a ‘traditional Christmas,’” said Neos co-founder and artistic director Bobby Wesner. “Those that lived, worked and served in the 1940s certainly influenced who we are today.”
A performance to remember
While Neos dancers will dance the principal roles, many advanced members of the Findlay Academy of Ballet will also have featured roles. They and others were cast in the summer, and have been rehearsing their parts since. They have balanced extra Nutcracker rehearsals with school, work, regular ballet classes and rehearsals, and other activities.
Like other advanced ballet students, Smith has often given up activities because of the demands of ballet. Ballet, however, has offered her opportunities few in Findlay have. She has danced onstage with members of Neos for Ballet on Broadway, part of the Arts Partnership’s summer series, and in Mansfield last year with Neos’ Mansfield-based Nutcracker.
“I’m part of something so big. It makes me feel like I can do more,” said Smith, who will perform as one of three Mirlitons in the ballet’s second act. “Performing is just a lot of fun for me. When I finally get on stage, all of this work has totally been worth it.”
To get your tickets:
Performances of “A 1940s Nutcracker” will be at 8pm on
Dec. 16 and 3pm on Dec. 17 at The Marathon Performing Arts Center,
200 West Main Cross St. Tickets range from $20 to $45.
For more information or to purchase tickets,
call 419-423-2787 or visit marathoncenterarts.org.