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62nd season of dance

Tacoma City Ballet opens its 2017-2018 performance season

Tacoma City Ballet’s Cinderella performances will feature fall orchestral accompaniments. Photo credit: Tacoma City Ballet

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Tacoma might be known as the "Grit City," but its residents have been enjoying the ethereal beauty of performing arts since the city was founded in 1875. The city's constantly expanding arts community provides plenty of theater, live music and dance performances to audiences each year, livening otherwise bleak seasons of rainy and cold. As fall sets in this year, the Tacoma City Ballet (TCB) prepares to enthrall audiences with breathtaking performances of classical ballet to open its 62nd performance season in downtown Tacoma.

"Audiences should expect grand performances with beautiful scenery, lavish costumes, lots of dancers and live orchestral music this season," said Erin Ceragioli, executive and artistic director of TCB.

TCB has been teaching classical ballet and offering professional performance opportunities to ballet dancers in the Puget Sound region since 1955. The nonprofit organization's 2017-2018 season will open in October with The Haunted Theatre, which will be held at the Jan Collum Ballroom Theater inside the Merlino Arts Center. The "spooky production" is an all-ages, one-hour show in which audience members are encouraged to arrive in costume. The Haunted Theatre, which began eight years ago, has become a favorite Halloween event among families in Tacoma.

"We usually have about 2,500 people coming to those shows each year," Ceragioli said.

TCB will also feature the holiday classic The Nutcracker & The Tale of the Hard Nut this December. The production boasts a cast of more than 150 dancers, live accompaniment by the TCB Orchestra under maestro Bernard Kwiram, and a nutcracker-themed boutique in the lobby. Additionally, a Sugar Plum Tea event will follow matinee performances, allowing children to meet dancers (who'll remain in-costume) while enjoying tea and goodies.

Although The Nutcracker has been held at Tacoma's famous Pantages Theater for the last 33 years, TCB will move this year's production to the brand-new Federal Way Performing Arts & Event Center (PAEC) in Federal Way. The change in venue will allow for more than double the audience size, a full orchestral accompaniment and regional expansion of TCB's audience.

"We're excited about going to the new theater and bringing Tacoma City Ballet to King County," Ceragioli said. "We'll become more of a regional ballet company than a company that only performs in one city."

Tacoma residents need not worry, though, as TCB's home will remain in Tacoma.

"The Merlino Arts Center is the home of Tacoma City Ballet," Ceragioli said. "Our ballet school is here, and we have our own theater in the ballroom ... We like to workshop performances in our own space before preparing them for the bigger (Federal Way PAEC) theater."

The final production in TCB's upcoming season will be Cinderella, which will be held at the PAEC next April. As with The Nutcracker, the TCB Orchestra will accompany Cinderella, and audiences will have opportunities to enjoy a Cinderella Tea after matinee performances.

With a full lineup of family friendly productions planned for the 2017-2018 season, TCB continues to prove itself as a community-focused organization. Along with affordable ticket prices, it offers dance instruction to youth and adults through weekly classes, workshops and summer intensives at its Tacoma City Ballet school. It also provides scholarships to students in financial need.

"My initial introduction to TCB was through their adult drop-in class for beginners when I was in my forties," said Sandy King, a long-time student and patron of TCB. "Since those first classes, I've attended several TCB performances over the years -- all at a very affordable ticket price and performed in their own ballroom -- and I always enjoy seeing the young students grow in poise, skill and teamwork."

The Haunted Theater, 4 and 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 20-21 and 27-28; 3 p.m., Sundays, Oct. 22 and 29, Merlino Arts Center, 508 6th Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.4219,

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