One of the scene stealing performers in Richmond Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” — playing Norfolk this weekend — is a profile in courage. Rock lost his leg to an automobile accident. Less than a year later, he will be making his professional stage debut on the hallowed stage of Chrysler Hall.
Hey, if you’ve got three legs that still work, why not dance on them?
Rock is a 10-year-old Shih Tzu mix who appears in the first act of “The Nutcracker.” In this version of the classic holiday ballet, it’s not just the mice that come alive. It’s the dogs, too.
Okay, so Rock doesn’t actually dance in the show, but his is a story worth telling none-the-less. Rock, and his colleague, Daisy, a Chihuahua mix, are part of the production to highlight an important cause: adoptable pets.
The Richmond Ballet is partnering with the Virginia Beach SPCA on Pugcracker. Along with Rock and Daisy getting their star turns, adoptable animals will be available in the lobby before the show.
It’s an issue that hits close to the doggie door for much of the Richmond Ballet team.
“The majority of our dancers and people in our organization have dogs from local shelters,” said the ballet’s Jennifer Chapman.
The Richmond Ballet is the state ballet of Virginia. They are often in Tidewater, be it leading workshops or at their dance residency in Portsmouth schools. Every year they tap into the local talent pool to make the grandeur of “The Nutcracker” a reality.
“110 local dancers are cast in the production,” said Chapman. “This was our largest turnout ever for auditions. Those students rehearsed every Sunday since the end of September. We have students that come from Kitty Hawk, all across Hampton Roads, and they perform alongside our professional company dancers. It’s a really big deal for them.”
And Pupcracker is a big deal for the Virginia Beach SPCA, which provides shelter and care to almost 4,000 animals a year. Both the VB SPCA and the Richmond Ballet encourage you to consider adopting your next pet. You might even meet her or him at a place as magical as “The Nutcracker” at Chrysler Hall.
“The dogs the SPCA brings are adoptable,” said Chapman. “The ones in the show are not. They’re used to being handled. We don’t want anyone on stage who might have an accident.”
“The Nutcracker” plays December 7 – 9. For more info or tickets, click here.