Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker {One Mom’s Experience}

Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre.

Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker {One Mom’s Experience}

In December of 1991, we took our then 2-year-old daughter, Whitney, to see our first-ever production of Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker, a Tale from the Bayou. Intently, she watched Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker as Clara’s enchanted dream unfolded before her eyes. “I can do that, Mommy,” she said, as she lifted her legs into the air (complete with the ballet shoes she insisted upon wearing). 

Fast forward to 1997, and I clearly remember standing in line for her first audition for that magical production. Scores of children and their eager mommies were there, numbers were being pinned on precious ballerinas, and the energy and excitement were completely contagious. I felt like a little girl at Christmastime again.  I knew that Humphrey Bogart was right. It was the “beginning of a very beautiful friendship” with Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre.     

After Whitney was cast as a Page, I eagerly stepped into my first volunteer shift to help dress the Pages backstage. I was floored by the magnitude of the production. As a classroom teacher, I knew it had to be demanding to get 300+ children all on the same page, but I had no idea the “freight-train-like” work that was going on behind those breathtaking performances on the stage. I quickly learned that behind the scenes was where the real magic was taking place. 

Having a Cajun flavor to it, BRBT’s production drew our entire bayou-born family in to its beautiful gumbo of artistry and enchantment. My husband, Bill, and I began volunteering on a yearly basis, making it a family tradition, and our youngest daughter, Delaney, jumped right into her ballet shoes at the first chance she got.   

Every year, I worked backstage, and Bill helped provide security for the dancers. Without truly realizing it, as the years rolled into one another, we began to get more and more involved in the intricacies of the backstage orchestration of the production. It sort of just naturally evolved. It was as though our family’s story and that of BRBT’s Nutcracker were becoming intertwined like the branches of a Christmas tree. The friends we made along the way were the beautiful ornaments and lights on the branches, adding meaning and love to the tree and making it memorable and so beautifully unique. 

Trained by our friends, the Westphals, my husband and I eventually became the Onstage and Backstage Coordinators. Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker {One Mom's Experience}Both being trained musicians, we quickly learned the show by heart. Looking back, though, this phenomenon was not just because of musicianship. It was because that is exactly what BRBT’s Nutcracker does – it not only mesmerizes the senses. It captures the heart. 

In 20 years of volunteering with BRBT’s Nutcracker, a Tale from the Bayou, the only year I missed was 2013. I was the only child of a mother who was in failing health, and ironically, God decided to call her home on Nutcracker weekend.  The pain of those weeks watered those intertwined branches of our Christmas tree, but out of the sadness of losing her grew the gratitude that she had seen my daughters’ faces light up the stage of the River Center Theatre from the pure joy they experienced while dancing in the Nutcracker. The last production she saw was the year before, when our youngest daughter Delaney danced the role of Clara. Fittingly, she would now have the best seat in the house. 

The magic of BRBT’s Nutcracker, a Tale from the Bayou, will forever be a family tradition for us. Even though our girls are grown, I simply cannot imagine Christmas without it. The majesty of this beautiful production is not only a feast for the eyes and ears; it is an invitation to embark upon the journey of Clara’s dream being woven inside the fabric of your deepest Christmas wishes. Magical and spectacular, BRBT’s Nutcracker, a Tale from the Bayou will make you feel like a child again – swept up in the sparkle and whisked away to the dreams that are deep within your heart. 

The Nutcracker – A Tale from the Bayou returns to the River Center stage, December 16 & 17, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre is hosting open auditions for children, ages 8-12, on Sunday, September 24, at the Dancers’ Workshop. Company auditions for advanced dancers with at least two years of pointe experience will be held Saturday, September 23, at the Dancers’ Workshop. Call the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre office at 225.766.8379 or visit to learn more.


A 31-year veteran classroom teacher, Adele Dufrene teaches 6th grade math and Pre-Algebra at the LSU Laboratory School. She and Bill (her husband of 33 years) reside in Baton Rouge with their 2 dogs, Goliath and Cosette. Their oldest daughter, Whitney, dances professionally with Doug Varone and Dancers of New York City, and their youngest daughter, Delaney, is a freshman in Mechanical Engineering at the LSU Ogden Honors College.


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