BERLIN — For eight consecutive years, the magic and excitement of “The Nutcracker” ballet has come to the North Country. On Dec. 7, St. Kieran Arts Center will again present the popular holiday classic in the Berlin Middle School auditorium at 3 p.m.
But this year, for Joan Chamberlain, director of the St. Kieran Arts Center, it’s more than just another performance. Chamberlain will retire at the end of the year after eight years as director, but her relationship with the Robinson Ballet spans almost 30 years.
Before moving to the North Country, Chamberlain was director of the Performing Arts Center at the University of Maine, Machias. In 1984, Chamberlain first brought the Robinson Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker” to that school for two performances a year. She was responsible for 22 performances while there. The Robinson Ballet has continued to perform at the school every year since.
Chamberlain moved to the North Country to become director of the Heritage Park in Berlin. After a few years there, she accepted the director’s position at St. Kieran Arts Center.
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could get them here’,” she said. She knew the ballet troupe, based in Bangor, Maine, had come as far at Bethel, Maine, in the past, so she called. The company had an opening and agreed to come.
“This show will be the 30th performance that I’ve been responsible for,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting to me, and it’s important that it goes to rural areas for people who wouldn’t normally get to see this performance.”
Chamberlain said she knows some people who have brought their children every year. “It’s become a tradition,”
The Robinson Ballet is a popular and highly respected dance company based in Bangor, Maine. Its mission is to educated, inspire and involve people of all ages in the appreciation of dance and to bring dance performances to communities in rural areas.
It’s a big project for it to come to Berlin for just one performance, Chamberlain said. A tractor trailer brings the set, sets it up and takes it down. A bus brings the dancers, three hours here and three hours back.
“We’re been lucky they’re willing to come,” she said.
“The Nutcracker” is the timeless tale of a Christmas adventure where dreams come to life for Clara and her beloved toy, the Nutcracker. After a family’s holiday gathering, the clock strikes midnight and strange, mysterious and wonderful things begin to happen. Fairies, soldiers, dolls, angels, a snow queen, a snow prince and a rat king are all brought to life by more than 40 dancers.
“This is a theatre dance without words, but somehow everyone just gets it, even the children,” Chamberlain said.
Chamberlain said the performance wouldn’t be possible with just the ticket sales themselves. It is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Northway Bank and Gill’s Flowers & Candy, with support from the state Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the arts and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation/North Country.
Ticket prices are $12 for adults and $6 for children/students on a first come, first served basis. They are available throughout the North Country at Northway Bank’s Berlin and Gorham offices, Top Furniture, Gill’s Florist, White Mountain Cafe, Town and Country Inn, Lazer Works Radio Shack in Colebrook, Riff’s Florist in Lancaster and St. Kieran Arts Center office, 155 Emery St., Berlin.
For more information and to reserve your tickets call 603-752-1028, stkieranarts.org.