Brigham City’s Nutcracker Ballet has ties to the founder of a favorite Christmas tradition

Michelle Jackman the founder of Classical Youth Ballet works with her daughter Kelty prior to a dress rehearsal on Monday Dec. 6, 2021.

BRIGHAM CITY – The Nutcracker Ballet is performed by large and small dance companies all over the world during the Christmas holiday season. Brigham City’s Classical Youth Ballet will perform the Nutcracker Ballet on Friday and Saturday Dec. 10 and 11 at 6 p.m. both performances will be held at Box Elder High School Auditorium located at 380 S. 600 W. in Brigham City.

A young dancer brings her costume into the Classical Youth Ballet studio in Monday Dec. 6, 2021.

The production has a couple of ties to the first Nutcracker Ballet ever performed. The first time the Nutcracker’s full-length performance was on Dec. 24, 1944, directed by Willam Christensen at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera. Christensen learned to dance at the Box Elder Academy of Music and Dancing, right in Brigham City.

The second connection is the founder of the Classical Youth Ballet, Michelle Jackman, studied with Christensen.

When I was younger, I studied with Willam Christensen,” Jackman said. “He was about 85 years-old at the time when my sister and I worked with him at the Ballet Center in Murray.”

The studio was crowded with excited dancers on Monday for a dress rehearsal preparing for this weekend’s performances.

Brooklyn Atkinson helps the three to seven-year-old dancers warm up for a rehearsal Monday, Dec. 6, 2021.

“This will be our eighth year performing the Nutcracker,” said Michelle Jackman, who retired earlier this year and lives in St. George. “I came back to help my daughter who took over the production.”

Jackman moved to the Brigham City area from Bentonville, Arkansas and started teaching ballet to a handful of students in 2007. She taught at a couple of locations before she found the current studio and old dance hall.

“This will be the first year we will have our three- to seven-year-old student perform with us,” she said. “From that class we have baby Snow Dolls and the Bunny Doll.”

“The Classical Youth Ballet studio was built in 1914 originally as a Carpenter’s Dance Hall and still has the original and wood floors,” Jackman said. “We teach children from 3 years old through college-aged dancers in the Box Elder and surrounding region.”

One of the many Nutcrackers in The Brigham City businesses celebrating the tie to the popular Christmas classic.

In the past, the Nutcracker Ballet was performed in the Main Street Theater but it is under construction, so they are performing at the high school.

David Walker, a member of the Historic Downtown Alliance in Brigham City said they started the Nutcracker Festival to bring awareness that the Christensens were the ones that brought it to Ballet West.

Several shops and stores along Main Street in Brigham City have a variety of large and small nutcrackers in their windows to support the ballet.

This will be the first year we will have our three-to seven-year-old students perform with us,” she said. “They will be baby Snow Dolls and the Bunny Doll.”

Willam, his brothers, Lou and Harold, also learned to dance at the Box Elder Academy of Dance and they both continued as dancers.

“When I was younger, I studied with Willam Christensen,” she said. “He was about 85 years-old when my sister and I worked with him at the Ballet Center in Murray.”

Jackman moved to the Brigham City area from Bentonville, Arkansas and started teaching ballet to a handful of students in 2007. She taught at a couple of locations before she found the current studio at old dancehall.

A file photo of Rachel Herrera adjust a nutcracker in a display at Consignology & The Union Park Market Place in Brigham City.

“The building was built in 1914 originally as a Carpenter’s Dance Hall and still has the original and wood floors,” Jackman said. “We teach children from 3 years old through college-aged dancers in the Box Elder and surrounding region.”

In the past, the Nutcracker Ballet was performed in the Main Street Theater, but it is under construction so they are performing at Box Elder High School.

David Walker, a member of the Historic Downtown Alliance in Brigham City, said they started the Nutcracker Festival to bring awareness that the Christensens were also the ones that brought it to Ballet West.

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