With warm springtime sunshine streaming through the glass, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier danced to the familiar strains of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” on Thursday morning inside the Devon Energy Center rotunda.
Flanked by towering toy soldiers, officials from Devon and the Oklahoma City Ballet announced that the energy company is donating $500,000 for the dance company to revamp its long-running production of the Christmas classic.
“Not only is it a huge holiday tradition that has been in Oklahoma City for 50 years, but at the same time it is our single greatest line item in revenue on an annual basis,” Oklahoma City Ballet Executive Director Shane Jewell said. “It makes up about 15 percent of our budget income. So it’s an incredible part of the company, not only in terms of what we offer the public — and what’s expected of us from the public — but also what we can do financially to move forward.”
Oklahoma City Ballet’s transformed version of the holiday favorite will premiere in December. In addition to funding new sets and costumes, the gift will allow the company to stage 10 performances instead of eight, artistic director Robert Mills said.
With one production still to stage — the company will perform its season finale, “Beauty and the Beast,” April 18-19 at the Civic Center Music Hall — Oklahoma City Ballet already has broken two records during its 2013-14 run: for most tickets sold in a single season and for most tickets sold for its annual staging of “The Nutcracker.” December marked the 50th anniversary of Oklahoma City Ballet’s first performance of the perennial yuletide favorite.
“What’s incredible about breaking a 50-year record this year is our dancers did it with sets and costumes that were up to 25 years old,” Jewell said, adding Devon will be the production’s presenting sponsor for the next 10 years. “Almost every ballet company in the country performs ‘The Nutcracker,’ and in many ways, the quality of your ‘Nutcracker’ is the perception of the quality of your company.”