By Carla Knapp
INDIANAPOLIS — The crackle of a warm fire, hand-made decorations and a twinkle in the night — wintertime is full of beauty and wonder. At the Indianapolis Zoo, the best of the holiday season comes together with a “wild” twist during Christmas at the Zoo presented by Teachers Credit Union and Donatos.
Nominated for two consecutive years for USA Today’s 10 Best Zoo Lights nationwide, this festive tradition began back in 1967 when the Indianapolis Zoo became the first zoo in the United States to hold a holiday lights event. Now entering its 48th year, guests can enjoy 28 magical nights of Christmas at the Zoo — Nov. 25-27, 30; Dec. 1-4, 7-11, 14-23 and 26-30, 2016. The Zoo is open each day from noon-9pm and holiday activities begin at 5pm.
The more robust animals will be out late to enjoy the cooler weather, including the tigers, sea lions, red pandas, brown bears, walrus and many others. All of the Zoo’s indoor exhibits will be open to offer a perfect place for guests to go when cheeks get rosy. Additionally, special animal keeper chats throughout the day will help put everyone in the Christmas spirit.
As the sun sets, the glow of twinkling lights will create a magical nighttime experience throughout the Zoo. The 100-percent LED experience is presented by Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent. Several dancing displays add to the festive atmosphere, including We Three Trees presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers and the All-A-Glow Light Show. Plus, the White River Junction Train presented by DAMAR Services offers an express ride through a wonderland filled with lights.
As they stroll through the Zoo, guests can warm up with a cup of hot cocoa, sample delicious holiday treats and enjoy carolers singing by the fireside. Plus, visitors who find the hidden mistletoe have a chance to win a spectacular holiday gift — an Animal Art Adventure.
In White River Gardens, visitors can shake off the winter chill and enjoy Santa’s Tropical Paradise inside the Hilbert Conservatory. Families will also love participating in the scavenger hunt presented by USA Insulation. Additional activities await at Santa’s Workshop presented by Chick-fil-A, where the little ones will love to decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, write letters to Santa and meet Kris Kringle himself through Dec. 23.
Christmas at the Zoo is free for Zoo members and included with regular admission. Discount tickets are available at participating Donatos and Teachers Credit Union locations. Guests can receive $1 off admission at the gate with the donation of a new hat, scarf or gloves to benefit St. Mary’s Child Center. Visit http://IndianapolisZoo.com/ for advance tickets and more information, or call 317-630-2001.
By Marc Allan
INDIANAPOLIS – Fans of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker will get an extra opportunity to see the classic holiday ballet this year when ButlerBallet presents six performances December 1 through 4, 2016, in Clowes Memorial Hall, 4602 Sunset Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Show times are: Thursday, December 1, at 7:30 PM; Friday, December 2, at 8:00 PM; Saturday, December 3, at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM; and Sunday, December 4, at noon and 5:00 PM. The second show on Sunday is a new addition, allowing each of the show’s two casts three opportunities to perform the major roles.
Tickets start at $24.50. They are on sale through Ticketmaster, the Clowes Hall box office, 317-940-6444, and http://butlerartscenter.org/.
The 2016 performances of The Nutcracker will feature 37 young dancers from the central Indiana community and all 114 students in Butler’s Dance program accompanied by the Butler Ballet Orchestra and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir under the direction of Richard Auldon Clark.
“We’re really excited about this year,” said Larry Attaway, Chair of Butler University’s Dance Department. “For us, it’s always new because the dancers are all new to their roles, but it will always be the holiday classic that the ButlerBallet is famous for presenting. You’ll recognize everything.”
Audiences will see some new choreography by Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Rosanna Ruffo, who will devise the movements for the Grand Pas de Deux and the Mother Ginger scenes, and Dance Professor Cynthia Pratt, who will choreograph the Snow scene.
For the first time in several years, the role of Clara will be danced by a student from the community. Chloe Andry, 12, from Noblesville, will take on the part.
“Chloe came to the Butler Community Arts School’s summer intensive program,” Attaway said. “She’s doing wonderfully well, and she’s incredibly mature.”
Attaway said this year’s Nutcracker is particularly strong because the students have been working together as an ensemble since the beginning of the school year. All 114 dance majors performed Pratt’s Riverrun Revisited at Indianapolis’ Brookside Park in September. This site-specific work was the department’s latest installment of the Streamlines project, part of a National Science Foundation grant that paired artists and scientists to explore scientific concepts and concerns about human intervention of the waterways in Indianapolis.
That experience created an incredible bond among the dancers, Attaway said. They became a cohesive company in a short time.
“We’re really ready for The Nutcracker,” he said. “It’s going to be great.”
Community dancers: Mya Adams, Fortville, age 11, Ballerinas Academy of Dance; Maya Adkins, Greenwood, age 13; Tippy Toes; Chloe Andry, Noblesville, age 12, Ballerinas Academy of dance; Kate Barker, Noblesville, age 12, Ballerinas Academy of Dance; Julia Brookshire, Indianapolis, age 15, Tippy Toes; Avalynn Bullerdick, Indianapolis, age 10, Curtain Call; Abby Burnette, Noblesville, age 11, Ballerinas Academy of Dance; Hazel Derloshon, Greenwood, age 9, The Dance Company of Indianapolis; Maggie Derloshon, Greenwood, age 12, The Dance Company of Indianapolis; Abigail Dirrim, Avon, age 10, Dance Legacy; Delaney Engelking, Indianapolis, age 10, Tippy Toes; Sophia Estka, McCordsville, age 11, Indianapolis School of Ballet; Joshua Fairchild, Plainfield, age 12, Dance Connection; Elaina Fletcher, Brownsburg, age 10, Dance Legacy; Gabrielle Hadad, Indianapolis, age 9, Indianapolis Ballet conservatory; Clifford Huehls, Indianapolis, age 6, Indiana Ballet Conservatory; Wednesday Jarvis, Greenwood, age 8, Starlight Dance Academy; Shaylee Navarrette, Plainfield, age 13, Infinity Dance Academy; Shelby Parker, Plainfield, age 10, Premier Academy of the Performing Arts; Quinn Potter, Indianapolis, age 8, Indianapolis School of Ballet; Daniel Pratt, Indianapolis, age 7; Indianapolis School of Ballet; Athena Reel, Indianapolis, age 9, Dance Legacy; Adriana Reel, Indianapolis, age 8, Dance Legacy; Mallory Sisk, Indianapolis, age 9, Dance Legacy; Ava Stiefel, Fishers, age 9, Ballerinas Academy of Dance; Karla Suazo, Indianapolis, age 14, Dance Legacy; Erin Wagner, Indianapolis, age 9, Dance Refinery; Maura Wheeler, Indianapolis, age 8, Fox Hill; Mariah Wilson, Speedway, age 9, Dance Legacy; Meeka Wojciechowski, Brownsburg, age 6, Sister Act Dance Academy.