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Alexandra Ballet comes to Logan University for 10th year

By: Ellen Lampe

Alexandra Zaharias [front row, third from left]with the 2016 cast of “The Nutcracker”

The Alexandra Ballet and Logan University know the holidays wouldn’t quite be the same without the long-standing tradition of performing “The Nutcracker,” which is why they’ve held true to the custom for a decade.

For the 10th year at The Purser Center at Logan University, located at 1851 Schoettler Road in Chesterfield, the magic of the holiday season is abundant in the one-of-a-kind telling of “The Nutcracker.” The narrated production, set to take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10, is designed for all ages to enjoy, consisting of a 30-minute first act, a 20-minute intermission and a 30-minute second act.

Alexandra Zaharias, founder of the Alexandra Ballet Company, introduced the idea of incorporating a narrator, and believes it sets her show apart.

“[The narrator] does help the children enjoy the performance more. It makes it easier for adults and older people to take their children or grandchildren,” Zaharias said.

Zaharias has been teaching ballet since 1949. She began the nonprofit Alexandra Ballet Company in 1985.

“When I was about five years old, I was very shy,” Zaharias said. Her mother enrolled her in ballet lessons as a way to help her break out of her shell. The rest was history. “It’s been a long road but I’ve enjoyed it all.”

The ballet company’s partnership with Logan University began when Chesterfield Arts invited Alexandra Ballet to perform at The Purser Center.

“I did it with them for three years, then [Chesterfield Arts] dissolved into a different format and discontinued it,” Zaharias explained. “Then, Logan reached out and said they didn’t want the performances to die and they wanted to keep it going.”

Emily Ratliff, director of events at Logan University, said The Purser Center initially just provided the space. Four years ago, it began producing the event, a rewarding role that Ratliff said has kept her busy.

“What sets this performance apart, what I love about it, is that it’s really family-friendly. There are so many versions out there. Some are long and tedious,” Ratliff said. “This one is narrated. It’s the perfect time span. It’s a good introduction to ‘The Nutcracker’ for families. There is not another version like this in town.”

Another thing that sets this year’s performance apart from the rest is The Nutcracker himself.

“The gentleman playing The Nutcracker is a senior at Parkway Central,” Zaharias said. “We were really proud to have someone in the Parkway School District to be The Nutcracker this year. We usually have a professional. But we had a nice young man to represent the community so, we thought, ‘Why not have him as The Nutcracker?’”

Zaharias said other performers in the show also are local students, drawn from St. Louis and many surrounding communities. “We’re very proud to say they come from everywhere.”

Attendees to the show are in for a treat, both inside and outside the performance.

Guests can visit the Land of Sweets to enjoy refreshments and concessions before the show and during intermission. After the performance, special members of the cast will come out for pictures with visitors. Each child who attends the performance also can take home an ornament off one of the decorated Christmas Trees at the venue.

Reserved seating and general admission seating will be available for the event. Tickets can be purchased at logan.edu/nutcracker.

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