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ALACHUA ‒ On the evening of Dec. 3, the Amphitheater at Alachua’s Legacy Park hosted Dance Alive National Ballet's (DANB) production of “The Nutcracker” to an estimated crowd of 700 people. The amphitheater was part of the overall plan to make Legacy Park a central location for recreational and cultural activities.

The Gainesville based professional ballet company has been performing “The Nutcracker” for 54 years with over 200 touring performances and 30 school programs in the United States. Over the past four years it has also become a traditional show in Alachua as well.

Like many entertainment performances, the pandemic has hit the ballet industry hard. Most of DANB's scheduled performances for this winter and spring 2021 have been canceled or postponed due to limitations on venues and crowd size. But “The Nutcracker” is an important part of the company’s history, and some shows that could be performed either outdoors or in larger venues that would allow for audience social distancing remained. One of those was the Alachua performance of “The Nutcracker” as over 30 dancers performed a nearly two-hour show at the outdoor amphitheater under the stars.

In 1966 Mary Ellen Pofahl, a professional dancer and teacher, founded the DANB company and it has continued through the talents and efforts of her daughters, Judy Skinner and Kim Tuttle. The Dance Alive National Ballet has become the premier touring company in the Southeastern United States. It is actually two entities under the direction of the two sisters. Tuttle and Skinner are owners/directors of the Dance Alive National Ballet with Tuttle serving as Artistic Director and Skinner serving as Choreographer-in-Residence.

While “The Nutcracker” was the last performance of the year at the Legacy Park amphitheater, it demonstrated how successful this outdoor stage can be. And Legacy is fulfilling its namesake by providing space and creating an environment of entertainment and culture for the community provided by the City of Alachua, free of charge to those attending.

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