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The 'Nutcracker' returns, as Bangor-based ballet company prepares for first live performance since 2019

Robinson Ballet company is preparing for its performance of "The Nutcracker" next Saturday at the Grand Auditorium in Ellsworth.

BANGOR, Maine — It's been two years since Robinson Ballet has had a live performance in front of an audience. In 2019, the ballet company performed "The Nutcracker" in December, as it has done for more than 40 years. Little did the performers know, it would be their last in-person performance for quite a while. 

Now, two years later, performers are gearing up for their first show back on stage, "The Nutcracker." Saturday was the company's final practice before the performance next weekend. 

Stevie McGary is the artistic director for Robinson Ballet. Having grown up dancing at the studio alongside her sister, Jesse, she said it was really important to her to allow these kids to have this experience in person.

"It's nice to come back feeling normal with a tradition," McGary said.

Due to the pandemic, McGary's sister Jesse Dunham moved home to Maine from NYC. Dunham is the wardrobe coordinator at Robinson Ballet and is also performing in "The Nutcracker" this year. Dunham said it has been 15 years since she's performed on stage.

"I haven't heard the soundtrack in a long time either so it always just brings a smile to my face," Dunham said.

9-year-old Grace Dufresne is also excited to perform again. This year she said she was really excited when she found out what roles she would have after the auditions. It's the most roles she's ever had in a Nutcracker performance. 

"I'm a party guest, I'm an attendant, I'm a clown, and I'm in the dragon... I'm really excited for it because I get to wear all those costumes," Dufresne said.

McGary said seeing the kids in the audience is the most rewarding part for the performers. 

"When the kids come out and they see the rats or they see Mother Ginger and they go, 'ahhhh' that's what we do it for, and so we're excited to have that again," McGary said.

The shows will be at The Grand in Ellsworth at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 28.

The ballet company will also perform "The Nutcracker" at the Gracie Theatre in Bangor Saturday, Dec. 11, and Sunday, Dec. 12 at 3 p.m.

There will also be a performance of "The Nutcracker" by the Bossov Ballet Theatre at the Waterville Opera House the weekend of Dec. 10. Performances will be held Friday and Saturday night at 7 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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