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Atlanta Ballet's 'Nutcracker' a family affair
by Bobby Tedder
December 11, 2013 10:25 AM | 1749 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special Photo
Kennedy Walls and mother Elenora Andrews Walls are teaming up for another run of Atlanta Ballet's 'Nutcracker,' Kennedy as a dancer and Walls as parent volunteer.
Special Photo Kennedy Walls and mother Elenora Andrews Walls are teaming up for another run of Atlanta Ballet's 'Nutcracker,' Kennedy as a dancer and Walls as parent volunteer.
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Special / Charlie McCullers
Abigail Tan-Gamino performs as the Dew Drop Fairy in the Atlanta Ballet's 'Nutcracker.'
Special / Charlie McCullers Abigail Tan-Gamino performs as the Dew Drop Fairy in the Atlanta Ballet's 'Nutcracker.'
slideshow
Special / Charlie McCullers
Christian Clark (Cavalier) and Rachel van Buskirk (Sugar Plum Fairy) perform during the Atlanta Ballet's 'Nutcracker.'
Special / Charlie McCullers Christian Clark (Cavalier) and Rachel van Buskirk (Sugar Plum Fairy) perform during the Atlanta Ballet's 'Nutcracker.'
slideshow
For Elenora Andrews Walls, it never gets old: watching a younger, spitting image of herself dance on stage as part of one of the world’s most popular and beloved performing arts productions.

That would be Atlanta Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” which runs at the Fox Theatre in Midtown through Dec. 29.

Walls’ daughter Kennedy, 11, returns to the stage in the role of Party Child as part of the memorable father-daughter dance sequence.

Some might consider the artform and outlet the Wallses have embraced so dutifully to be in the Buckhead family’s DNA. In joining the production three years ago, Kennedy followed in older sister Elizabeth’s footsteps. Elizabeth, in turn, took her cue from their mother, herself a former dancer.

“Only twice in life was I able to make a show with all the places I danced, but I had vivid memories,” said Walls. “And, one of them was of ‘The Nutcracker Christmas.’

“No matter where we lived, that was the same constant — my parents would take us to see ‘The Nutcracker.’ So, I just I knew I was going to put the girls in dance [at a young age]. … Even if [husband Mark and I] had sons, we would be coming to the show every Christmas, I assure you.”

The fantastical exploits of young Marya the Rat King and the titular character set to Tchaikovsky's timeless score continues to be among the season’s top artistic draws.

Kennedy, a student at Atlanta Ballet’s Centre for Dance Education, continues to work her way up the ‘Nutcracker’ cast totem pole — more theatrical responsibility doled out with each ascent. Consider it a measure of her grasp of the material and grace with which to execute her given assignment.

“[‘The Nutcracker’] keeps you entertained,” said Kennedy. “It’s amazing — the story that’s being told on stage and how there is no [dialogue], but you can still understand the story throughout the whole show.”

As has become its trademark, the ballet company’s creative braintrust continues to up the visual ante with each re-telling of that narrative.

“For five decades now, the Atlanta Ballet has been presenting ‘Nutcracker,’ and we’ve become a holiday tradition for many families in Atlanta,” said Artistic Director John McFall. “It’s an honor but also a great responsibility.”

The world of the performers charged with bringing that creative task at hand to life is deeper than one might expect.

In Elenora Walls’ view, it takes a village to raise a ballerina — a nod to the Atlanta Ballet’s communal network of volunteer parents, behind-the-scenes personnel and alumni.

As for the one living in her household, the ‘Nutcracker’ experience has grown bittersweet.

“[At 5 foot 1], I’m starting to get on the taller side,” Kennedy said. “Most girls my age are a lot shorter than me. I enjoy doing it … and I’d like to keep doing it as long as I can.”

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