Bonita Simpson, Owner of Bonita’s School of Ballet and Artistic Director for the Union County Youth Ballet (UCYB), has been getting ready for The Nutcracker since June. That is when the older members of the UCYB auditioned for the solos and named parts in the ballet while the younger students joined practice in September. Now students, parents, and teachers are making the final preparations for the 27th Annual production of The Nutcracker.
Simpson has been practicing ballet since she was a child herself. Her mom thought the classes would help with her shyness, and it lead to a lifelong passion for ballet. Now influencing the next generation of ballet dancers, Simpson has her own ballet studio as well as founding and running the Union County Youth Ballet. Simpson especially values watching the children grow and bloom into beautiful dancers. She loves when the students encourage each other and she is very proud of all the kids in the program. While some are in it as a hobby, several of her former students have gone on to dance professionally or have opened their own studios.
Currently, there are about 200 children, boys and girls, in the Union County Youth Ballet all working together to entertain the community with The Nutcracker. Ballet classes start as young as two and a half but children must be at least 5 to perform in The Nutcracker. “The kids love performing and it’s such a traditional ballet. The youngest performer is five and while they start as a Cherub, roles grow each year as students gain more experience. The older students audition for solos and really look forward to performing. They grow up with this ballet. The girls who perform as Clara have been dancing for about 13 years.” explains Simpson.
The Union County Youth Ballet will be exhibiting six performances of The Nutcracker in 2019. All of the performances will be held at Wingate University where they have been held since UCBY started the annual performances. Wingate has an auditorium that seats 550 and has ample room for backgrounds as well as a pit for live symphony accompaniment. Two of the performances are for local schools and have already sold out. Public performances start on December 6 at 7 pm with live accompaniment by the Union Symphony. They will continue on Saturday, December 7 at 10 am and 2 pm. There will be an evening performance with the Union Symphony at 7 pm to wrap up the season. Tickets are already on sale and only limited numbers remain.
Union County Youth Ballet presents The Nutcracker – www.ucyb.org for ticket information.