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Lights, camera, action: Beth Fowler dancers filming 'Nutcracker' movie

Beth Fowler Dance Company’s “The Nutcracker Ballet” is a local Christmas tradition. The holiday classic has been performed live at DeKalb’s Egyptian Theatre for 27 years and at St. Charles North High School for eight years.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and theaters being closed, the dance company is converting its annual “Nutcracker” show into a movie with an extended storyline romance, green screen effects and additional filming locations, including the Ellwood House in DeKalb.

There will be 151 performers in two casts that include dancers from the Beth Fowler School of Dance for children ages 3 and older and the Beth Fowler Dance Company for eighth grade students through adults. The company dancers will perform in both casts, with the Genoa school of dance in one cast and the St. Charles school in the other.

“The film is more than a ballet production, it has helped get the dancers excited about dancing again,” Beth Fowler, artistic director, said. “It has helped spark their passions again during the pandemic.”

Jacob Bliujus, 17, of Sycamore is the film’s Nutcracker Prince.

“People often think of ballet as slow and boring, but it’s anything but,” he said. “Our film is a lot of fun and will definitely keep people entertained.”

Bliujus said he is in the dance studio nearly every day, either as a student or as a teacher.

“The film has given us something to look forward to, something to work toward,” he said. “I love everyone involved with the production. They’re the reason I love to dance, and I’ve loved working with them.”

Dan Kapper, the film’s producer, said he has “never filmed a performance quite like this before.” To create the feature-length movie, about an hour and a half long, his production crew filmed more than 100 hours of footage and used five cameras.

“It’s the classic Nutcracker ballet, but they have made it more immersive with dialogue, music and the green screen,” Kapper said. “There are funny parts, talented dancing and a lot of Christmas charm.”

Olivia Brown, 15, of St. Charles is the film’s main character, Clara.

“This is truly my dream role,” Brown said. “I love the story of the Nutcracker and I’ve had a great time working on the film. I think you get to know the characters a bit more in our film. It’s more than just dancing, there’s a great story, too. It will really get you into the Christmas spirit.”

The film screenings were scheduled for December, but because of Illinois’ Tier 3 mitigations, the showings have been rescheduled for January. Tickets that were purchased for December shows are valid for the new dates.

The film will be shown Thursdays through Saturdays the last two weekends in January. The Genoa cast can be seen at 7 p.m. Jan. 21-23 and 2 p.m. Jan. 23 and 29. The St. Charles cast screenings will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 28-30 and 2 p.m. Jan. 30.

To purchase tickets, visit the Egyptian Theatre website.

All tickets purchased by Dec. 22 will include a free bonus film, “The Making of the Nutcracker Movie.” The bonus film will be delivered by email to view virtually.

For more information about Beth Fowler School of Dance, visit

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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