The importance of live performances

“Nutcracker” ballet is at Lake Placid Center for the Arts Dec. 2-3, 2017. Pictured are (back row: Amber Winch, Celidh Cheeseman, Harvey Runyon, Julia Loomis, Lillian TullerUss, Tyler Nye, Kristen Glazier, Tyler Chase, Deana Reyore and Laura Coffin; (front row): Emma VanWeelden, Aurora Brunner, Emery Toohey, Lexi Coffin, Will Coffin and Addison Toohey. Pictured at center is Autumn Whitney.
(Photo provided — Diane Chase)

“Nutcracker” ballet is at Lake Placid Center for the Arts Dec. 2-3, 2017. Pictured are (back row: Amber Winch, Celidh Cheeseman, Harvey Runyon, Julia Loomis, Lillian TullerUss, Tyler Nye, Kristen Glazier, Tyler Chase, Deana Reyore and Laura Coffin; (front row): Emma VanWeelden, Aurora Brunner, Emery Toohey, Lexi Coffin, Will Coffin and Addison Toohey. Pictured at center is Autumn Whitney. (Photo provided — Diane Chase)

I spend a lot of time in front of a computer and on my phone. Oh, yes. My children are very quick to point that out to me as I reprimand them for the very same reason. The double-standard is clear. I have the best excuses for being online as Christmas approaches, family visits and my job that has me staring into a screen.

According to a 2014 study published in EducationNext, attending cultural experiences provides opportunities that amusement parks* do not. A few benefits include an increase in tolerance, critical thinking, historical empathy, and knowledge. I’ve always enjoyed seeing live performances whether its theatre, concerts, or ballet because I feel connected to the performers. While watching a live show I’m able to suspend reality, not because of fancy computer graphics, but because of artistic sets, gorgeous dancers, and beautiful music. Every performance is slightly different while these actors, dancers, and musicians strive for perfection. (*Amusements parks are great experiences as well. It’s the balance we strive to achieve.) Here are a few suggestions to get yourself in the holiday mood with some educational side effects.

After completing a successful run in Plattsburgh, the North Country Ballet Ensemble’s “Nutcracker” comes to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts for only three shows, Saturday, Dec. 2 at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 3 at 1 p.m.

The blending of New York City professional performers with regional students (ages 3 to 18) and community members make Christmas magic happen on stage. To have performers with such extensive professional resumes as Therese Wendler, the Sugar Plum Fair, and Mikhail Ilyin, Cavalier, on stage are a gift to watch. Pendragon Theatre alumni and New York City-based actor Tyler Nye makes his debut as Drosselmeyer with a flair that make even this Christmas Grinch believe in magic. Tickets are on sale at LPCA for $20 for adults and $15 for children. Call 518-523-2512 for reservations.

The Dance Sanctuary, Saranac Lake is owned and operated by an enthusiastic owners Mandi Maiore and Vanessa Pillen who are making sure that everyone gets a chance to dance. In additional to providing community salsa lessons, Iron Yoga, Cardio classes, and a dance school, the Dance Sanctuary is bringing a special two-day performance to benefit its scholarship fund. The first annual Christmas Benefit “A Dancer’s Gift,” is being held Dec. 12, 6:30 p.m. and Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. at Harrietstown Hall. Dancers, ages 2 through adult, will perform a variety of genres including ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, and tap. For that $10 ticket price, we get to see a live performance and help provide children with a creative outlet. Merry Christmas.

Pendragon Theatre winter show is always a holiday favorite in our house. This year’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” brings Barbara Robinson’s best-selling book to the stage. This comedy classic has the Herdman children, the worst kids in history, trying out for the Christmas pageant. Hijinks ensue as the Herdmans turn the worst into one of the best.

General admission tickets, $5 (under 6 years old), $12 (ages 6 to 17), $16 (over 18) are available at PendragonTheatre.org or by calling 518-891-1854. Opening night is Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. with other performances on Dec. 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30 and well as 2 p.m. matinees on Dec.10 and 17.

There are so many other ways to enjoy the arts around our area from live music to museums. The more opportunities I have away from my computer and phone, the happier I am. I wish you the same happiness.

.Diane Chase is the author of the “Adirondack Family Activities” guidebook series, “Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities.” For more family-friendly activities go to www.adirondackfamilytime.com.

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