‘A Nutcracker Tea’ will move to a new location

Posted: November 14, 2013

The Winchester Star

Dancers rehearse at Vostikov's Academy of Ballet for an upcoming production. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Students rehearse at Vostrikov's Academy of Ballet for a ballet performance. “A Nutcracker Tea” will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the George Washington Hotel. It has been held previously at the academy on Cork Street in Winchester.

Winchester — The scene will be set Sunday for an elegant afternoon of enchantment and fantasy at the Virginia Youth Ballet’s “A Nutcracker Tea.”

Clara, Fritz, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and other familiar characters from the beloved “Nutcracker” ballet will entertain guests in the ballroom of the George Washington Hotel at the fifth annual tea, said Susan Vostrikov, who co-directs the ballet with her husband, Gennadi.

The venue is a first for the event, moving from its usual location at the Vostrikov Academy of Ballet on Cork Street to allow for more room and thus more tickets, she said.

“Our building limited the amount of people who could attend. The George Washington allows for more,” Susan said. “We have sold out every year.”

“A Nutcracker Tea” will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the hotel, 103 E. Piccadilly St. Tickets are $40. There is limited availability, but the 110 seats available now are much better than the 80 they had in the past, she said. Proceeds benefit the youth ballet.

Vostrikov is thrilled with the elegant atmosphere the ballroom — “complete with chandeliers” — will add to the tea, which is modeled after a proper English tea complete with scones, sandwiches, and teapots. The room lends itself to the period of the piece, she said.

Adding to the atmosphere are Christmas trees, large nutcrackers, and the sleigh used in the production. Children may take their picture on the sleigh with the Sugar Plum Fairy, who usually entrances them, she said.

The event not only allows parents and children a preview of this year’s production of the ballet but gives them a chance to dress up and get up close and personal with some of the characters, she said.

“It is a beautiful, historic building. It has charm — a nice ambience and feeling,” that will add to the magic of the production, she said.

The youth ballet’s full production of “The Nutcracker” will be held at 12:30 and 5:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in Handley High School’s Patsy Cline Theatre. Tickets are $18.

Putting on a production of “The Nutcracker” has been an annual tradition in Winchester since 1983, Vostrikov said. For some people, it is as much a part of the holiday celebrations as decorating a tree or singing carols.

Even people who would normally find going to the ballet an “intimidating” experience feel comfortable with the this show, she said.

“I think it is the holiday spirit and that the music is so magical,” she said. “It is a beautiful story about children and presents and magic and, of course, Tchaikovsky’s music is breathtaking.”

The tea allows guests to experience a taste of that magic in a more intimate way, said Barb McCann, who co-chairs the event with Susan Myers. The tea includes four dance excerpts from the show and a reading of the story.

To help children follow along with the story, costumed characters will be at each table holding copies of the book to let them follow along and see the illustrations, she said. Many of the characters will mingle with guests throughout the tea.

“I think it makes a connection for our guests, particularly the little ones. When you see those characters on a stage, it is very different than when they are standing next to you,” said McCann of Winchester.

Among the characters mingling with the guests is Ridge White, who reprises the role of Clara’s father for the 25th time this year.

He started participating when his daughter, Mary Willis White, was a dancer at Vostrikovs and has continued to do it because he has such a good time. “It is a joyous occasion.”


The Virginia Youth Ballet’s “A Nutcracker Tea” will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in the ballroom of the George Washington Hotel, 103 E. Piccadilly St. Tickets are $40. There is limited availability. For more information, contact 540-665-0343.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com