Local Arts

McColl family donates $1 million for Charlotte Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’

Elizabeth Truell and Juwan Alston dance the Chocolate section in The Land of Sweets for Charlotte Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.”
Elizabeth Truell and Juwan Alston dance the Chocolate section in The Land of Sweets for Charlotte Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” Charlotte

“The Nutcracker” takes place in a dream and has inspired dance-related dreams in thousands of kids. So maybe it’s apt that the McColl family has made a dream come true for Charlotte Ballet: Its $1 million donation, the largest personal gift in the company’s history, will buy a new “Nutcracker” this year.

The donation, announced Saturday at the “Dancing With the Stars of Charlotte” fundraising gala and designated in honor of Jane McColl, will buy new sets and costumes. Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, who will then be in his final season as artistic director, will even re-choreograph bits of the show to fit the grander production.

Alain Vais, who did a “Cinderella” for the company where a fireplace became a coach, will create sets. Holly Hines, who’s doing a 2016 piece for Paris Opera Ballet, will design costumes. They and Bonnefoux will collaborate on a version that has a classic look but a higher wow factor.

“At the end of the party scene, we will have a tree that grows so much that the battle between the Prince and the Mouse King happens under it,” Bonnefoux said. “It’ll be a wonderful illusion, a three-dimensional feeling from something that’s on canvas. I don’t think many (designers) do that by hand nowadays, when everything is made by computers.

“We have needed costumes for years. Some of the old ones were starting to fall apart, although (the staff) did a great job keeping them going.”

This gift is a farewell present for Bonnefoux, who’ll be celebrating his 20th season here and has waited years to revamp his best-selling production. He plans to spend every penny on physical elements of this show, where one tutu can cost $2,000 to $5,000, depending on fabric, lace and jewel embellishments.

“It’s going to be magic,” he promised. “And magic is expensive.”

Toppman: 704-358-5232

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