Saturday, December 7 the Lew Wallace Auditorium at the Franklin County High School welcomed a performance by the nationally recognized St. Louis Ballet. 

Gen Houriuchi, Executive and Artistic Director of the Midwest St. Louis Ballet Company brought the classic ballet “The Nutcracker Part II and Other Works,” to life with his direction and choreography in front of a nearly full auditorium. 

The clock hanging on the wall ticked off the minutes as the crowd anticipated the start of the show.  Little girls in an array of dresses could be seen sprinkled throughout the auditorium as they anxiously waited for the Sugar Plum Fairy's arrival.  Promptly at 7 p.m. Franklin County Arts Council Director, Patti Wilhelm took the stage thanking everyone who made the event possible.  

“It takes a village,” Wilhelm said in regard to the number of community members that worked together to make a “world class event” like this possible for the residents of Franklin County.   

She then warmly welcomed the St. Louis Ballet as she introduced them to their captivated audience. 

First up were the “other works,” starting with “Concerto Barocco,” originally by George Balanchine, co-founder of New York City Ballet. The music that accompanied the performance was Johann Sebastian Bach's Double Violin Concerto in D Minor.  

The curtains opened to reveal eight members of the female cast on stage dressed in white. The soft lighting on the stage in an otherwise black auditorium perfectly illuminated the dancers as a thin veil of smoke swirled around them. It wasn't long before the two lead ballerinas joined the other ballerinas that were already moving in unison on stage; taking center stage they depicted the two violins the music so beautifully played. The blonde and brunette each represented one of the instrumental soloists. Sometimes the leads were on stage alone while other times dancing together mimicking each other's moves.  The other eight ballerinas accompanied them throughout the performance at times providing the perfect frame for the lead ballerinas. A male dancer joined the leading ladies further into the performance effortlessly assisting the ballerinas as he lifted them across the stage. 

When the first performance ended the dancers were met with applause as the curtain closed.  A soft murmur could be heard from the crowd as they whispered about the first performance and anticipated the next. 

Up next was “Baile Latino,” which simply means Latin Dance.  In the program that was passed out to guests upon arrival, it was noted this “World Premier” performance would be set to “classical guitar and flamenco beats.”  Baile Latino opened with one ballerina on stage in a black dress with Latin flare and a red flower in her hair. Six other performers would join her including three female and three male performers.   

At one point the ensemble of seven gathered around center stage as one of the male performers broke free and took center placement delivering a vigorous, upbeat performance as the others stood around him watching, swaying, and clapping as he performed.  One at a time they all had a chance to take center stage as the others watched and anticipated their turn.   

When Baile Latino was finished and the curtain closed the lights came up in the auditorium as a cheering crowd had a 15-minute intermission. Refreshments were provided for the audience by the Franklin County High School Music Boosters. 

Auditorium seats were filled again before the 15-minute break was over in anticipation of the classic performance “The Nutcracker Act II” where the St. Louis Ballet would be joined by Franklin County Children acting as the angels and candy canes.

The Franklin County children who performed alongside the internationally acclaimed dancers were angels: Lena Huerkamp, Aubrie White, Susan Glashagel, Cora Lienesch, Felicity Lanning and Naarah Lienesch.  The Franklin County children who performed as candy canes were Maria Lanning,

Margaret Glashagel, Ayla Lienesch, Lydia Helmers, Elizabeth Shuster and Anna Helmers.

When the curtains opened as the final act began the crowd was met with a drastically different backdrop. Replacing the simple black curtain was a vibrant background of blues, oranges, and reds that set the stage for the equally vibrant costumes that were worn by the Sugar Plum Fairy, Cavalier, Angels, Chocolate (Spanish), Coffee (Arabian), Tea (Chinese), Candy Cane (Russian), Marzipan (German) and the Dew Drop Fairy.  

The rendition of the Nutcracker performed by the talented group was based on Hoffman's tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” (1816).  Music was by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaivosky.  

The Choreograpy by Gen Horiuchi did not disappoint the crowd as performers took their turn telling their portion of The Nutcracker, through dance which has become a Christmas staple for many around the world.

The entire cast joined together for the finale and confetti covered the stage.  The Sugar Plum Fairy was given flowers by Wilhelm and the crowd gave a standing ovation for a job well done by all.