Ballet of arms delights area children

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 12, 2010

NATCHEZ — Most of the time ballet dancers have two feet and two arms to use, but Saturday, characters in the famous Christmas ballet “The Nutcracker” had many arms and no feet with which to work.

The characters were on sticks and under the control of out-of-sight puppeteers in Saturday’s production by the Puppets Art Theatre of Jackson.

The show portrayed Clara’s magical journey with her enchanted nutcracker. Toys and decorations came to life to dance and perform.

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Kayla Nosser, 8, of Natchez was more than pleased with the show. The Cathedral Elementary student practically jumped up and down with excitement after the show.

“I love it; I love it,” she said.

She loved it so much she couldn’t even pick a favorite part.

“I liked the teddy bears and then when the clowns came out,” she said. “I really did like it all.”

There were also dancing snowmen, marching penguins and mice, floating Christmas ornaments and parades of flying garland.

After the show, which was simplified to allow for young children to easily follow the story, the puppeteers showed the audience what it took to make the puppets come to life.

Five puppeteers stand behind a black curtain and control different parts of the character puppets that are performing for the audience on a red cloth-covered table.

Puppet Arts Theatre Director Peter Zapletal said hours of practice are put in to make sure the puppets are in sync.

“We cant see each other’s faces during the performance, so it takes a lot of work to get it right,” he said.

Some of the puppets take as many as three people to perform the moves.

Nosser said she has seen several puppet shows, but really enjoyed seeing how the puppets are controlled.

“I thought it would take at least one more person,” she said. “I don’t think I could do it at all.”

One scene, which depicts three clowns coming out of presents, took all five puppeteers to get the three puppets dancing. Zapeltal said the puppeteers will often sing or hum the music to keep the right rhythm.

“When we perform for audiences, the children will start to clap with the music, but the music changes and the clapping doesn’t,” Zapeltal said. “We have to make sure we are dancing to the same music.”