Behind the Curtain


40 years ago, the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre put on the first production of The Nutcracker. This holiday season, they’re celebrating that night with an incredible performance as usual, but with a few 40th-anniversary special additions. The show starts Saturday, December 4 and runs every weekend starting at 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. until Sunday, December 19.

Attending a production of the Christmas favorite has become a tradition for many, so the 40th-anniversary celebration is sure to be memorable for performers and viewers alike. The production has all of the elements one could dream of, including elaborate costumes and sets, performances from both amateur and professional dancers and a live orchestra. Together, the show incorporates many forms of artistic expression, making it a truly immersive experience. “Our full production curates an artistic expression that shares multiple art forms simultaneously with the community: Ballet, Theatre and Live Music,” explains Leah Nicoll, the marketing director for Gwinnett Ballet Theatre.

To the viewer, The Nutcracker is a sight to be seen, but the performers perceive The Nutcracker in an entirely different, more personal way. This year’s sugarplum fairy, Brooke Burgess, explains that the process leading up to the show isn’t an easy feat, but it is rewarding ten-fold. After completing auditions toward the end of August, performers begin preparation for the big day almost immediately. Starting in September, performers rehearse individually five days a week, but that changes to six getting closer to the show. Rehearsals slowly grow until all moving parts finally come together in the few run-throughs leading up to the show.

However, hours of practice are worth it for Brooke and the other performers. “Each year we are able to relive the magic of this ballet, sharing the joy that it brings through its association with the holiday season,” states Brooke. In a way, the dancers and their performances bring what we know as “the Christmas spirit” to all of Gwinnett. Currently preparing for her eighth year as a part of the production, Brooke reminisces on the multitude of roles she has portrayed. Each with different challenges that helped to make her into the dancer and performer she is today. 

Not to mention, Brooke’s favorite to perform, the Pas de Deux, has remained with her since her childhood. The show left its first impression on Brooke as she grew up associating the music with the holiday season and the joy that comes with it. A joy that can be felt throughout the entire Gas South District as the show goes on. Grab your tickets today at and watch Brooke and over 100 professional student dancers transport the arena into another world entirely.