BWR’s ‘The Nutcracker’ Ballet Will Feature Live Music

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Ballet Western Reserve could not do its annual live performance of “The Nutcracker” last year, but it will bring it back in style this year.

The downtown school and performance troupe will present the classic ballet this weekend with musical accompaniment by a live professional orchestra. Past performances used recorded music.

The school is collaborating with Youngstown State University’s Dana Ensemble, a professional orchestra, to play the full, classic Tchaikovsky score. The performances will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at Powers Auditorium.

There was no live performance last year because of the pandemic, although a filmed version was created.

“For the first time in recent memory, our full-length classical interpretation of ‘The Nutcracker’ will be set to a live orchestra,” said Kate Greyjoy, artistic director of BWR, when she announced the show earlier this year.

She noted that live accompaniment enhances the educational aspect for the young dancers.

“A performance with live accompaniment is quite unlike any experience we can provide in studio with recorded music,” Greyjoy said. “Simply feeling the vibrations and energy created by live accompaniment takes dance to the next level and teaches students how to listen and feel against, and in collaboration with, other professional artists.”

The Youngstown Foundation awarded BWR an $18,000 grant to pay for the orchestra.

“We are so appreciative of the support from the Youngstown Foundation and thrilled to bring live music back to our classic version to this ballet, a perfect way for the entire family to kick off the holiday season,” said Katie Merrill, executive director of BWR.

The grant will also will cover the wages of BWR’s staff accompanist for ballet classes during the 2021-22 school year. 

Anna Aey, president of the BWR board of trustees, said the live orchestra will bring “excitement and interest” to the performance. “The collaboration with YSU is wonderful as it demonstrates how much we accomplish when the local arts community works collaboratively.”

The performance will be “a great way to kick off the holiday season” and “a wonderful and affordable event to celebrate with the entire family.” 

The cast of “The Nutcracker” will include Austin Dabney, one of BWR’s top recent alums.

Dabney, of the Youngstown area, began his training at BWR and completed his studies at Interlochen Academy in Michigan. He has been a company member of the Boston Ballet, and is now with Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tickets for “The Nutcracker” are $29 and can be purchased in advance at the DeYor box office; online at; and by phone at 330 744 0264. 

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.