Lightsabers, aerial silks and martial arts abound in the ‘Great Wilmington Nutcracker’ (photos and video)

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WILMINGTON — The Wilson Center was anything but quiet and staid as Daniel Seamans, master of ceremonies, worked the crowd before pulling back on the curtain on this year’s “Great Wilmington Nutcracker.”

Seamans promised the crowd an aerial silk artist, “Star Wars-style” fight scene and a riotous martial arts performance by King Tiger Tae Kwo Doe. The Master of Ceremonies then introduced Elizabeth Wolfe Hester, founder and executive director of the Wilmington Ballet Company, who took a moment to thank Stella Johnson, the company’s artistic director, who had inherited production duties due to an illness on the crew.

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The show, produced by the Wilmington Ballet Company and the Wilmington School of Ballet, brought over 200 dancers to the stage to bring Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Christmas classic to life.

Tchaikovsky’s ballet draws on the E.T.A. Hoffman story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” about a child’s Christmas toy that comes to life and battles a gargantuan rodent. In spite of its initial failure in 1892, the ballet has grown increasingly popular.

Company members Jeffrey Rei and Jayla Winborne danced as the Nutcracker and Clara, with support from The Dance Cooperative, Studio 1 Dance Conservatory, Babs McDance Social Dance Club, Southside Dance Center, Brunswick School of Dance, Port City Gymnastics and Techniques in Motion.

For more information about upcoming 2017 shows – “The Jungle Book” and “Sleeping Beauty” – visit Willmington Ballet Company.

Video: The Great Wilmington Nutcracker in Three Minutes (stay tuned until the end for the climactic lightsaber battle).

Below: Slideshow from the Sunday, Dec. 18, performance.