Tag Archives: Westport Academy of Dance

Something New For “Nutcracker”

There are many ways to mark the start of the holiday season. “The Nutcracker” is as good as any.

For 4 decades, the Westport Academy of Dance’s ballet has been staged here. The venues have changed — Staples and Weston High Schools, Long Lots and Saugatuck Elementary — but the performances never did. They were always outstanding.

Westport Academy of Dance’s “Nutcracker.”

For the first time this year, the local “Nutrcracker” will have a professional setting worthy of its almost-professional dancers. The 40th annual production is set for Bridgeport’s Klein Memorial Auditorium. Shows are tomorrow (Saturday, November 27, 3 p.m.) and Sunday (November 28 2 p.m.).

“The Nutcracker” is such a tradition that current Westport Academy of Dance owner Nancy Zindell also performed in it — multiple times. So have current Academy teachers Tollie Barrato, Abby Evans and Grace Bergonzi. They were inspired as young dancers; now they’re doing the same for a new generation.

Parents are an integral part of every aspect of the Academy of Dance — including “The Nutcracker.”

*Abby Evans as Sugar Plum, with her dad Bill Evans. He played Drosselmeyer for years.

They, their kids and their kids’ instructors are excited to return to a full, live performance after last year’s’ COVID interruption. For those unable to be at the Klein though, both shows will be livestreamed.

After 40 years — or 129, since Tchaikovsky wrote it in 1892 — there’s still new news about “The Nutcracker.”

(Click here for ticket information. Click here to learn more about the Westport Academy of Dance.)


[UPDATE] 3rd Site Proposed For Medical Marijuana Dispensary

The Planning & Zoning Commission meets April 5 to continue its public hearing on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Three proposals are on the agenda.

One involves the former Bertucci’s restaurant on the Post Road, near the Sherwood Island Connector.

The 2nd is for the old Blockbuster store.

The 3rd proposal is for 345 Post Road West.

That’s the Academy of Dance building, near the Norwalk border.

The Academy of Dance, on Post Road West.

The dance studio sent out this message:

It has been brought to our attention that our landlords have filed an “Application for Special Permit” to attempt to make this location eligible for a CT Medical Marijuana Dispensary. We were not aware of these intentions and we are working with our landlords to better understand their recent actions.

It is important for our dance community to know that we are bound by a current lease that entitles us to remain at 345 Post Road West as we have done successfully for many years.

The Academy says their “classes, performances, privacy and typical routines” will not be disrupted or infringed upon. They’re not closing, and they don’t intend to move.

Sounds as if the applicant — “FFD Westport LLC” — has found a location smaller than the 2 big locations so many residents complained about at the last meeting.

But it’s clear the current tenants are not going to just waltz away.

(The P&Z meeting on Thursday, April 5 begins at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.)

Dads And Daughters Make “Nutcracker” Sparkle

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

You know that, because this weekend “The Nutcracker” dances into town.

The Westport Academy of Dance‘s 36th annual production is set for tomorrow and Sunday (December 2 and 3) at Staples High School.

It’s an area-wide show — but Westporters figure prominently. Staples seniors Julia Rosier, Rachel Wolfe, Kelley Flynn, Jessie Parker and Izzy Chun are featured performers. They and their 120 fellow dancers began rehearsing in August.

Izzy Chun takes the spotlight.

It never gets old: This is the 12th “Nutcracker” for Julia and Rachel.

It’s also the 6th — and last — year that Rachel will dance with her dad.

In 2012, Michael volunteered for the role of “Father.” (The dance role, that is. He’d already fulfilled his biological and emotional roles.)

Michael has been all-in, doing something most fathers never think about — let alone follow through with. Two years ago, he wrote about the experience on his blog.

Michael and Rachel Wolfe.

But they’re not the only Westport father/daughter team. Jessie’s dad Greg has worked backstage for 7 years. Like Michael, he wanted to do what he could to share his then-little girl’s passion.

Everyone knows “The Nutcracker” story. But there are always stories behind the story.

For the final time this weekend, Michael Wolfe and Greg Parker will enjoy theirs.

(“The Nutcracker” will be performed tomorrow [Saturday, December 2] at 3 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, December 3 at 2 p.m. Click here for tickets.)