Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition at New London’s Garde Arts Center, but many do not know that the ballet school is located right here in East Lyme. The school is celebrating 20 years, in partnership with the Garde, of delighting audiences with this beloved and unique adaptation of the classic Nutcracker story, featuring local history.

The historic Garde Arts Center.

“We are thrilled that young children and their families from throughout the region can see The Nutcracker in the grand setting of our 1400-seat movie palace in the heart of their own community,” said Garde Executive Director Steve Sigel. “We are honored to have been a partner to Eastern Connecticut Ballet as it has established itself as a major ballet school and producer throughout New England.”

For 30 years, Eastern Connecticut Ballet has called East Lyme their home. A special treasure in our own backyard, the ballet school serves local and regional students. Dancers travel from as far as Rhode Island, northern Connecticut and south of New Haven to commute to year-round classes and summer programs. The school is proud to be the region’s premier school for dance education.

“We teach our students to aspire to excellence, a philosophy that drives everything we do,” said Executive Director Lise Reardon. “Our school is not only for those who are serious about pursuing dance as a career. Many students come to us and stay for years because of their sheer joy of dance. We believe that if a student works hard, they can accomplish wonderful things. They learn life skills that are invaluable to them in whatever path they choose. And they learn how to accept adversity and correction which prepares them for life.”

While educating dancers is their primary mission, they are delighted to cultivate the appreciation of dance in our community. Live performances such as The Nutcracker bring joy and inspiration to thousands each year.

The ECB regularly partners with The Miracle League of Southeastern CT for their adaptive dance program Everybody Dance Now.

As a nonprofit organization, Eastern Connecticut Ballet recognizes its responsibility to the region that supports them. They enjoy bringing families together and offering programs that provide a common ground to people of all ages, backgrounds, economic circumstances and abilities.

Many of you may know a young person who has experienced the thrill of performing on the historical Garde Arts Center stage. And when the curtain rises at the Garde, Lise says, “Children are delighted to see familiar buildings, people and places. It becomes personal for them, and they experience first-hand the connection between art and history.”

Eastern Connecticut Ballet raises money all year for their Free Ticket Initiative. Through the initiative, they partner with social service agencies in our community to provide 500 free Nutcracker tickets to underserved and at risk populations as well as military members and their families. In addition, every year 2,700 school children have the opportunity to see the performance at no cost to them, supported by the generosity of local businesses. To donate, visit Eastern Connecticut Ballet.

ECB ballerina’s at the Niantic Holiday Stroll.

This year, professionally trained Eastern Connecticut Ballet dancers and guest artists Unity Phelan and Indiana Woodward of New York City Ballet will share the spotlight in this nautically-themed live performance of The Nutcracker. Set in New London in the 1850s, the recently updated scenery celebrates southeastern Connecticut’s seafaring past and transforms the stage into a wintry day in the whaling city. Stage sets display tall ships in port, the New London Custom House, Whale Oil Row, lighthouses, and a sea captain’s Victorian home.

Tchaikovsky’s celebrated music carries the audience through an enchanting journey as Clara and her new friend, The Nutcracker, travel through a magical world of Arctic ice fields where whaling ships once ventured on harrowing voyages!

Enjoy the magic of these performances and come out to support the ECB: Tickets are available for all shows which will take place December 10 at 1:30pm & 7:00pm and December 11 at 1:30pm. Special pricing is available for children ages 12 and younger, seniors, military and groups of 15 or more. For more information and to purchase your tickets, visit the Garde website or call the Garde box office at 860-444-7373, Ext. 1.

Eastern Connecticut Ballet

435 Boston Post Road
East Lyme, CT 06333
(860) 739-7899

About Our Main Street Blogger:
Joanne lives in, and loves, our community. She was looking for an opportunity to help share all that our local businesses do to make East Lyme such a special place to call home, and she is excited to contribute to our blog. Joanne brings to the role her experience from New London Main Street where she contributed content to their website, newsletters and email communications for many years.

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