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Not So Nutcracker ballet for charity

By Staff | Dec 4, 2015

For generations, audiences have been delighted by the tale of young Clara and her noble Nutcracker Prince. Even the first notes of the whimsical score by Tchaikovsky invoke nostalgia for Christmases past.

Tonight, Covenant Church will serve as the venue to an original rendition of the ‘Not So Nutcracker,’ performed by the Fragrant Offering Dance Company (FODC) from Shepherdstown.

The Not So Nutcracker offers much of the familiar, enduring story line from the original ballet, but inserts a few twists and surprises, like a little Dutch girl, a Swiss Miss, gingerbread cookies, bakers and even adds a selection from ‘The Sound of Music.’ But the most notable difference comes in the form of the angel telling Clara and her Nutcracker Prince about the birth of Jesus, paying homage to the Christian theme of the season.

“We are a Christian ministry,” said Christina Franz, director of The Fragrant Offering Dance Company. “So we have that Christian element in our production. It’s little things that kind of change it up, but primarily people will find it very familiar,” she said.

Franz’s production will showcase different dance styles, including pointe work and classical ballet, of course, but also lyrical dance and gymnastics.

Franz began FODC in New York 17 years ago where she came up with the idea of the Not So Nutcracker, but relocated to Shepherdstown seven years ago and began holding classes at an affordable rate to area dance students, as an outreach to the community. Classes were first made available at the Jefferson County Christian Homeschool Co-op, which also meets weekly at Covenant Church, but has grown to include over 100 students from around the area, meeting every Saturday.

Franz believes in making the arts affordable for all children, so the cost of class is $35 per semester, and no child is turned away due to an inability to pay. Franz volunteers her time, as class fees go entirely into putting on FODC’s two yearly productions, thus enabling her to keep costs low.

Proceeds from ticket sales for the shows go entirely to Victorious Children’s Home, an orphanage in Kakamega, Kenya.

“Last year we raised $10,000,” said Franz “and so far we have $4,000 raised this year.”

The performance is tonight at 7 p.m. at Covenant Church, 7485 Shepherdstown Pike. Tickets are $10, and children 5 and under will be admitted for $1. Tickets are available at the door.