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Clara receives the Nutcracker, beginning the magical journey. A family-friendly Story Time production of the ballet The Nutcracker will be presented at the Essex Public Library on Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 4 to 5 p.m. Photo by Thomas Giroir

Clara receives the Nutcracker, beginning the magical journey. A family-friendly Story Time production of the ballet The Nutcracker will be presented at the Essex Public Library on Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 4 to 5 p.m. (Photo by Thomas Giroir )

Eastern Connecticut Ballet Brings Holiday Magic to Essex Library

Published Nov 02, 2016 • Last Updated 02:50 pm, November 01, 2016

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The chilly air, leaves falling from trees, and growing holiday spirit can only mean one thing: It’s time for the Sugarplum Fairy to make her annual visit to Essex to greet children of all ages with the classic winter tale, The Nutcracker.

The Eastern Connecticut Ballet Company production has been visiting the Essex Public Library for about 10 years, said Director of Children’s and Young Adult Services Jessica Branciforte.

“The dancers are wonderful and it’s really nice for the little ones to see,” said Branciforte. “The production is very enchanting, and also age appropriate.”

The special Story Time version of the production lasts about 45 minutes and has interactive elements designed to better appeal to young children. Held in the library’s Program Room, the centerpiece is a large storybook featuring photographs from the full production. The story of the ballet is read aloud, and the dancers perform at intervals during the text. After the performance, the attendees have a chance to talk to, take photographs, and even dance with the performers.

“Many of the dancers who come are used to teaching that age, so they are very used to this kind of interaction,” said Branciforte.

Branciforte sees this type of performance and collaboration as part of the library’s mission to be a “hub for cultural enrichment” for the community, as well as a way of building stronger ties within the larger community.

“We rely a lot on collaboration to do what we do well,” said Branciforte. “Hiring people is never the same as when you find and work with people who are passionate about the same kids as you are.”

Eastern Connecticut Ballet Company Associate Director Krystin Baribault, who also frequents the library’s story time with her daughter, accompanies the dancers to this performance and acts as narrator.

“It’s so well attended, and the kids are so engaged as the book is literally brought to life before their eyes,” said Baribault. “We bring toe shoes for them to touch and look at, have a mini dance class, play games together, and of course, have plenty of time to take pictures.

“It’s so important to involve children in the arts,” Baribault continued. “We give them a little glimpse at their level, and they have the chance to engage in live dance, learning parts of what they’ve just seen, learning and dancing to what they’ve just seen. We’re so committed to this exposure that many of our performances are child-friendly and family oriented.”

The Eastern Connecticut Ballet Company returns to the Essex Public Library for its Nutcracker Story Time performance on Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 4 to 5 p.m. R.S.V.P. to 860-767-1560 to reserve a space.

The full Eastern Connecticut Ballet Company Nutcracker performance will take place at The Garde Arts Center in New London on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 1:30 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 11 at 1:30 p.m., and will feature both the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and Sara Mearns and Jared Angle, guest artists from the New York City Ballet. Tickets can be purchased through the Garde box office by calling 860-739-7899, or visiting www.easternctballet.com.

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