The Pennsylvania Ballet: Behind The Scenes of The Nutcracker
Producer: Karen Smyles
This December, Friday Arts ventures behind the scenes for a Journey to the Land of the Sweets for Philadelphia’s most beloved holiday tradition. Giant mice, dancing snowflakes, a growing Christmas tree, and an enchanted nutcracker are sure to delight the inner child in everyone. Pennsylvania Ballet’s combination of amazing dancers, gorgeous sets and costumes, and fabulous live orchestra make George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® one of the greatest holiday shows in the country. How does it all come together?
Year after year, people of all ages come to the Academy of Music for performances of The Nutcracker. With all of the magic that happens on stage, it’s hard to imagine all of the work that goes on throughout the year to make it all appear so flawless. Friday Arts was thrilled for the opportunity to meet and talk to all of the people who work to make it happen.
We sit down with Angel Corella who began his new role as Artistic Director beginning with the 2014/2015 season, to talk about why he finds The Nutcracker to be a labor of love. A native of Spain, Corella explains that The Nutcracker is not as popular there as it is in America, and being a part of it now really puts him in the mood for the holidays. You feel the excitement he feels for his work as he discusses working with everyone from the dancers, to the musicians and even the ushers.
Principal dancer Ian Hussey talks about living his childhood dream of dancing the role of the Cavalier to the Sugar Plum Fairy, and soloist Alexandra Hughes discusses the multiple roles she’s played in The Nutcracker over the years. We also go backstage to talk with the prop master, a wardrobe dresser, the music director/conductor and the concertmaster. Then out to the lobby to meet two of the ushers who keep everything going smoothly with the audience.
Karamoor Estate Wines
Producer: Monica Rogozinski
Nick and Athena Karabots have called Karamoor Farm home since the early 1970s. Both are first generation Greeks whom have a deep love for their family, philanthropy, and Karamoor Farm.
The Karabotses main businesses are in the printing and publishing arena. In the mid-seventies, the Karabotses bought Brookside Farm and eventually the adjacent Oxmoore Estate, as well as a few other pieces of property. The Karabotses combined the properties and renamed them as Karamoor Farm, which is a combination of the Karabotses last name and the second half of Oxmoore (there is also a loose translation to the Greek “hara mou”, meaning “my joy”, which also applies). Karamoor’s land had been farmed for hundreds of years (documented prior to the days of William Penn) and the Karabotses continued that tradition, growing all types of crops, primarily hays and grains for farm animals.
Then, in 2003, Nick and Athena decided that they wanted to be able to enjoy the crops that grew on the land of their beloved home, and began the planning process to replace the existing crops with vineyards. The symmetry and clean lines of vineyards were beautiful to them, and they had always had a great appreciation for wine. They hired Lucie Morton, a top viticulturist in the United States, who did soil and exposure studies to decide what varietals could be planted and on what areas of the farm. The plan was to plant all vinifera varieties (varieties derived from European grapes); by the Karabotses desire, they settled on Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Petit Verdot. The first 12 acres went in the ground in 2006, followed by an additional 5 acres in 2008 and an additional 10 in 2013.
The vineyard operations are maintained by Vineyard Manager, Joseph Rienzi, and Winemaker, Kevin Robinson. Grape growing in Pennsylvania is very labor intensive, and everything in the vineyard is done by hand. Growing quality vinifera fruit in the warm and humid summer climate of Pennsylvania requires a more diligent spray schedule to control disease and it requires much more canopy maintenance. Karamoor Wines attention to detail and meticulous care and maintenance of their winery has produced award-winning wines that are accepted on the world stage, and in order to do that, they harvest ripe and healthy fruit.
Producer: Michael O’Reilly
Quindar is a collaboration between Grammy Award-winning musician Mikael Jorgensen of Wilco and local art historian and curator James Merle Thomas, currently teaching at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. Quindar’s existence is very closely tied to space. Combining historical research with musical performance, the duo uses archival audio and film to create ambient, electronic, and experimental music and accompanying projections. The band is named after Quindar tones, the transmission “beeps” heard during NASA’s early Apollo mission. Quindar has worked since 2012 with the National Air and Space Museum, USC School of Cinematic Arts and the National Archives to digitize archival recordings and films created by NASA researchers during the 1960s and 1970s. As a press release succinctly put it: “Tracks often function as historical documents here, combining the sounds of early computing, telemetry systems and radar equipment with space-mission recordings and early synthesizer technologies that flourished during the same era.” Their current album, “Hip Mobility”, was released in the summer of 2017. Friday Arts found them over Memorial Day Weekend performing for the Final Friday Series at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.