The District at Tustin Legacy

By Debbie Lavdas

We pull back the curtain, as Orange County families prepares to experience FBT’s The Nutcracker holiday spectacular—the most popular ballet event this season! Here are 14 insider theatre secrets we’re sharing exclusively with you (that you may also find fun to share with your kids as they head to the show). “We love putting on this show, and it’s a joy to share this backstage peek with OC Mom Magazine,” said Salwa Rizkalla, artistic director and founder of Festival Ballet and Southland Ballet Company. “We so look forward to seeing families, as they come out for culture with their children—it’s an ongoing tradition for so many.” Over 12,000 will see the shows this year, which are held exclusively at The Barclay in Irvine for two weeks.

1. Did you know the larger-than-life Mother Ginger, who hides eight cute Gingersnap dancers under her skirt) has often been played by a man—an OC police officer, in fact? Did you also know Mother Ginger is moved with the help of many hidden prop men who roll Mother Ginger on stage on wheels, as the Gingersnaps scurry underneath quickly to keep up and stay hidden till they pop out—and crowds cheer each year?

2. Did you know the magnificent set is direct from Russia? FBT Artistic Director demanded the finest representation.

3. Did you know that every year all of FBT’s shows sell out? This year, there are 15 shows, each presenting to over 800 fans who will fill the theatre seats at the Barclay in Irvine?

4.  Did you know a few different Clara’s play the lead role each year since there are so many shows to perform?

5. Did you know this year’s production features renowned guest dancers from American Ballet Theatre, Jeffrey Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet?

6. Did you know that hundreds of local children are invited to audition for FBT’s The Nutcracker?

7. Did you know Salwa Rizkalla, artistic director and founder of Southland Ballet Company and FBT has been know to hang out with Nygel’s SYTYCD? Salwa also just starred in a reality show called Dance School Diaries–a People Magazine pick.

8. Did you know that many of the dancers who perform in the Nutcracker have been in the show in different roles since they were on stage as angels at just five and six years old?

9. Did you know there are family discount nights? This year, the shows are on December 17 & 18 at 7pm.

10. Did you know Festival Ballet Theatre celebrates over 25 years of phenomenal dance in OC? Did you know he Nutcracker show features young dancers from FBT’s school: Southland Ballet Academy?

11. Did you also know Pointe Magazine named Southland Ballet Academy as one of the top 7 ballet schools nationwide?

12. Did you know the 2014 Orange County Arts Awards just honored FBT’s Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla with a prestigious lifetime award– the 2014 Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award for Lifetime Achievement? Salwa is an arts star in the community for her commitment, passion and caring approach toward her dancers?

13. Did you know FBT dancers and Pacific Symphony Orchestra share the stage at Segerstrom Center for the Arts for The Nutcracker for Kids on December 13 (a condensed 50-min show & live music). It’s the best of OC dance and arts together.

14. Finally, do you know all the roles in the Nutcracker? Ready?! Here goes (great trivia quiz by the way)… Sugar Plums, Cavaliers, Clara, The Nutcracker, Dr. Drosselmeyer, Boy Doll, Doll, Harliquinette, Dr. Stahlbaum, Mrs. Stahlbaum, Maids, 8 parents, Fritz, Friends, Party Scene girls, Little Party Girls and Boys, Mouse King, Mouse Duet, Big Mice, Little Mice, Toy Soldiers, Horse Soldiers, Angels, Snow, Snow Queen, Sugar Plum, Attendants, Spanish Pas De Deux, Spanish Corp, Chinese Pas, Chinese Corp, Arabian Pas, Arabian Corps, Russian Pas, Russians, Merlitons, Mother Ginger and her Attendants, Gingersnaps, Dew Drop, Waltz Men, Petals and Flowers… whew!!!

Don’t miss this wonderful holiday event. To buy your tickets, visit or today!

14 Backstage Secrets Behind OC’s Biggest Holiday Ballet: FBT’s The Nutcracker, Dec. 12-24!