The Russian ballet “Nutcracker” has become an American holiday tradition.  This year, the Midland Festival Ballet presents it’s annual “Nutcracker” tomorrow, Saturday December the 11th and 12th at Lee High School Auditorium.  Susan Clark, co-director of MFB says they have 116 dancers in the cast which it’s one of their biggest casts and largest staged ever.  The ballet will be accompanied by the Midland-Odessa Symphony; conducted by Douglas Droste, protégée of symphony conductor, Gary Lewis.  Prior commitments kept Gary Lewis from leading the symphony in this performance last year and again this year.  “He (Droste) was our conductor last year, and I thought he did a good job,” Clark said of Droste.  “He was a good dance conductor, and the symphony sounded great.”

Judy Coleman and Susan Clark, are both founders and co-directors of MFB and have differing theories regarding what has made this ballet so popular with audiences since its introduction to this country decades ago.  “Everybody is looking for something seasonal to go and see that their kids will enjoy,” said Coleman.  “Maybe they are looking for old-fashioned memories when life didn’t move as fast.”

Clark thinks it is the music.  “I think that Tchaikovsky score is beautiful, and I think we are very fortunate that we are still able to do it with live music” said Clark.

Victoria Gilmore will be dancing the role of Carla — whose two older sisters – Carly and Annie – have in years past danced this role in MFB’s production.  “That’s very rare actually,” said Susan Clark, “The all are very different dancers but really good for the role.  And her parents are doing the roles of Judge Stalbaum and his wife”.

The production is entertaining to all age groups.  The theme of Christmas and seeing the younger dancers on stages allows even 3-year-olds to sit through a 45-minute act.  The adults probably enjoy the second act more, seeing the classical dances…the mystique and excitement of the production is wonderful for everyone at any age.

Midland Festival Ballet’s “Nutcracker”

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Dec 12

Where: Lee High School Auditorium, 3500 Neely Ave

Tickets: $20 adults and $15 seniors, student and children

Call: 686-0071 for tickets or go to