For many people, seeing “The Nutcracker” ballet in a theater is a holiday tradition. The COVID-19 pandemic is making that a little difficult this year.
But Jo Gemmill is doing something about it. Her English Rose Tea Room in Carefree is once again hosting a Nutcracker Tea Party December 5, December 6, December 12 and December 13. The dates are sold out, but more will be added. Masks will be required.
“I think for a lot of people, ‘The Nutcracker’ is a Christmas tradition that they have done for years and years,” Gemmill says. “There’s definitely an opportunity for people to still see something of ‘The Nutcracker’ even if they can’t go to the theater and see the whole production. They can come here.”
The story is about a young girl who befriends a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve and wages a battle against the evil Mouse King.
For the last eight years, the tea room dedicates one afternoon in December to host a Nutcracker Tea Party where the English Rose Tea Room’s resident ballerinas come to participate in a small-scale vignette of the traditional “Nutcracker” ballet.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity—especially for the little children—to get up close and personal with a ballerina, rather than watching them from far away in a theater seat,” Gemmill says.
Gemmill wanted to extend the opportunity to more people this year due to theater closures. Samantha Gobeille of Arizona Dance Artistry is this year’s dance coordinator.
“Jo is really bringing ‘The Nutcracker’ experience to them in this setting because there won’t be many opportunities to watch the traditional ballet,” Gobeille says.
The experience begins with the ballerinas reading “The Nutcracker” story to the children. After, they will perform a small-scale version of the ballet in the tea room. And, of course, the afternoon will be filled with tea and pastries.
“It’s really just adding the value of the events for the tea room participants,” Gobeille says. “The little girls who are there get to take pictures with the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara and the other fairies. They will perform and show them their pointe shoes and just give them a general love and interests for dance.”
Not only are the customers of the English Rose Tea Room getting their “Nutcracker” fix, so are the ballerinas. Otherwise, the ballerinas wouldn’t have an opportunity to perform with theaters being closed.
“Most ballet studios or ballet companies are not doing a ‘Nutcracker’ this year. So, this is the only opportunity for some young children to get a ‘Nutcracker’ experience.”
English Rose Tea Room, 201 Easy Street, Suite 103, Carefree, 480.488.4812, carefreetea.com.