By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Another special annual event – this one a mainstay of Yukon’s Christmas holiday season for more than a quarter century – is the latest victim of a certain virus.
Central Oklahoma Ballet Co. has announced its production of “The Nutcracker” has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.
Yukon’s Nutcracker celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019 with plans to present this year’s production Dec. 5-6 inside the Yukon Fine Arts Center, 850 Yukon Ave.
“I’m very sad to say we won’t have ‘Nutcracker’ in 2020,” said Debra Vossen, artistic director of Central Oklahoma Ballet. “Our board of directors met recently and voted to postpone until next year because of so many variables with COVID-19. Some people are very afraid (of the virus).
“This breaks my heart, and everyone is disappointed.”
The program typically features a 70-piece orchestra and 70-member cast, along with several dozen crew members.
Featured national and international guest artists fly to Oklahoma to take the Yukon stage.
“Most professional ballet companies have canceled their seasons until 2021,” Vossen noted.
In a letter to ballet company parents, Vossen and Central Oklahoma Ballet Board President Allie Overton noted it takes more than 150 people to “put this beautiful show together.”
“Right now, if one person came down with COVID-19 after a dress rehearsal, we would have to quarantine for 10 to 14 days.
“(And) with expenses involved and schedules to work through, we could not postpone it to a later date like they do in sports.”
‘THE FABRIC OF YUKON’
Yukon’s Maggie Fuchs, who has been part of the Yukon Nutcracker cast from the start, said this annual yuletide tradition is near and dear to her heart.
“It’s become part of the fabric of Yukon,” said Fuchs, a generous annual supporter of Central Oklahoma Ballet.
“I’m terribly sad, not only for myself but for my granddaughter Madeline, who wanted to come home and help out this year.”
Fuchs’ granddaughter, a college senior in Colorado, danced in Yukon’s Nutcracker for about 12 years.
“Through Madeline, I can sense the disappointment in all the girls that we won’t have Nutcracker this year. I hurt for them because this is something that they really look forward to,” Fuchs said.
“On the other hand, if we went ahead with it and somebody got sick, the devastation of that would just be tremendous. We can’t afford to take anybody’s health and well-being for granted.”
A fine arts advocate and former Yukon teacher, Fuchs shared why she consistently supports the Nutcracker ballet production.
“This is something that allows the young people of Yukon to grow in so many ways,” she said. “The arts are just as important as athletics and academics in the development of our young people.
“The arts are so important for the complete development of character.”
The audience inside the Yukon Fine Arts Center’s spacious auditorium usually totals around 2,000 people combined for the Saturday night and Sunday afternoon Nutcracker performances.
But the facility’s availability in December is suspect at best since the Yukon school district – which owns and operates the 3,000-seat venue – isn’t scheduling any events there.
Central Oklahoma Ballet’s board decided to cancel the 2020 Nutcracker “in the best interest of everyone,” Vossen explained.
“We’re going to make Yukon’s Nutcracker bigger and better next year,” the longtime artistic director pledged. “We’ll be able to add to what we already have and make it even more special than it already is.
“We already have a generous donor who wants to pay for our costumes next year.”
Although the large-scale Nutcracker production won’t be presented this December, Central Oklahoma Ballet is in talks to stage a smaller-scale divertissement to showcase dance company members.
Central Oklahoma Ballet is a nonprofit organization and tax-deductible donations are encouraged. For more information, call 354-1743.