Pelham Picture House works with Ballet Arts to produce ‘The Nutcracker’ safely during Covid-19

“Ballet Arts has been performing the second act of ‘The Nutcracker’ in collaboration with the Pelham Picture House forever,” said Sheran Daniele, artistic director of Ballet Arts-The Performing Arts Center of Southern Westchester.

When the Picture House would hold its annual fundraiser screening of New York City Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Ballet Arts would perform the second act of holiday classic live beforehand. However, with these unprecedented times, Ballet Arts had to switch it up. 

Due to the Picture House not being able to get a streaming deal for the film and Covid-19 restrictions, Ballet Arts dancers performed the whole “Nutcracker” and recorded the performance to share with the public. The production was filmed using three cameras, one head on and two angled from the sides, at the Picture House on Nov. 15. 

The ballet studio followed all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulations, including wearing masks, temperature taking, wiping down surfaces, social distancing and air purification. Masks were worn during the final performance. Rehearsals were spaced out by sections, and then sections were brought together using regulations. Most practices were held at Ballet Arts, and dress rehearsals were held at the Picture House. There were seven to eight weeks of rehearsals and about 290 hours were put into creating this year’s “Nutcracker.”

Daniele did not hold auditions: “Whoever wanted to be involved, I found a place for them.”

The Nutcracker was played by Dannys Gonzales, Princess Queen by Alisa Toro Franky, Drosselmeyer by Christian Figueroa and Clara by Natalie Cosica. Parents were involved. They helped behind the scenes and on stage, dancing as many of the characters.

“‘Nutcracker’ is tradition, and we have to keep our traditions strong to keep us positive,” said Daniele. 

The future for local dance schools is uncertain, but Daniele said she expects there to be different rules and guidelines, such as the ones followed to produce “The Nutcracker.”

“With live performances across the region currently put on hold, we were determined to find a way to keep the magic of ‘The Nutcracker’ from disappearing this holiday season,” said Daniele, “Our dancers were thrilled to return to the stage at the Picture House, and we’re looking forward to sharing the final production online.”

The show is available here to stream through Dec. 30.