For the first time in nearly two years, thousands of students walked through the doors at the Orpheum Theater. Last week, Omaha Performing Arts (O-pa) welcomed more than 8,000 K-12 students and teachers, plus their parents, to two different versions of The Nutcracker — one traditional ballet and one hip hop. The five Student Matinee Series performances featured The Hip Hop Nutcracker with the legendary Kurtis Blow and American Midwest Ballet’s The Nutcracker.
“It was electric,” said Kathleen Lawler Hustead, Associate Director of Education at O-pa.
The Student Matinee Series is at the heart of O-pa’s mission to enrich the community with education and community engagement programs. It gives K-12 students and educators an opportunity to learn outside the classroom with special discounted, 60-minute, daytime performances. Touring artists connect the arts to school subjects and state education standards, and students get to visit the historic Orpheum Theater and the Holland Performing Arts Center — many for the first time!
“So many students of all ages left smiling ear-to-ear talking about how amazing the shows were,” said Bill Grennan, O-pa Education and Engagement Manager. "Teachers, parents, and administrators told us how grateful they were to be able to provide a world-class arts experience for their kids and how safe they felt doing so.”
There is also a virtual Student Matinee Performance for American Midwest Ballet’s The Nutcracker. The videos and learning resources are available on demand through Dec. 31, 2021. While the digital content is especially relevant for students and educators, anyone who wants a behind-the-scenes look at the ballet (and a special virtual workshop with dancer Elena Carter!) can access this content for free by registering with a Ticket Omaha account.
More student matinees will take place this spring and K-12 school groups and homeschools can register here to attend!
Another special education opportunity took place at the public performance of The Hip Hop Nutcracker on Nov. 28, as dancer, choreographer and O-pa Community Engagement Specialist Aaron Derell led a curtain warmer performance in the Orpheum lobby. Patrons were invited to learn some hip-hop dance moves to the music of the Nutcracker before the show.
These preshow curtain warmers are arranged for select shows throughout the Omaha Performing Arts season. They include demonstrations, interactive performances and hands on learning before performances. Upcoming curtain warmers will be with the Shawn Bell Trio before “Holiday Stomp” with The Hot Sardines on Dec. 10, 2021 and the Omaha Children’s Choir performing with David Benoit on Dec. 11, 2021.
These are just a few of the programs and activities for learners of all ages. Explore all our Education and Engagement programs.