A Sugar Plum Tea Party is held every year about a month before the Metropolitan Ballet Theatre’s (MBT) annual production of the Nutcracker. What makes this event so special is that the Nutcracker dancers including the Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen are dressed in costume and mix with the girls the entire time.
Aimed towards the 3 to 7 age group, my daughter and her friend, both 7, were probably the oldest girls in attendance but that did not stop them for enjoying themselves. I suspect most of the girls were 4 and 5-years-old. Some girls came in fancy dresses and others wore dance attire. We attended the third and final sitting of the day. All sittings sold out with 30 girls at each sitting.
The event lasted about 75 minutes. The girls were directed towards a decorated room where they worked on three simple ballet-themed crafts for about 30 minutes. Next, they went into a dance studio where the Sugar Plum Fairy performed a dance from Nutcracker ballet. Then, Elizabeth Odell Catlett, MBT’s Artistic Director, led this group of 30 very young girls through ballet moves and taught them a Sugar Plum fairy dance.
She mesmerized me the way she taught such a large group of young girls. You can tell that she was meant to teach dance. After another 30 minutes, the girls returned to the main room for a snack of jelly finger sandwich, goldfish crackers, teddy grahams, and a small pink-frosted cupcake with juice boxes and water bottles for drinks. The event concluded with Ms. Catlett reading the Nutcracker story with some girls sitting on the ground along with the Nutcracker dancers.
A parent or caregiver was expected to remain the entire time. However, there was very little space for parents to sit. Most tended to hover over or close to their child making the space the girls did their craft and ate in a bit cramped. Perhaps when the academy relocates to its new location in the near future, the space will be different.
At $15 a child, this was a bargain compared to the other specialty tea parties for children. While your child is not going to be drinking from a tea cup or eating on china, I think the close proximity to the dancers, chatting with them, helping them with their crafts, sitting with them during the story, and graciously posing with them for pictures, was unique. The dancers really went out of their way to make the girls feel special. Your child will get up close to these lovely dancers, see their costumes, and learn a few steps. Who knows it might just ignite the passion of a budding ballerina.
Good to Know
- The Sugar Plum Tea Party happens in mid-November, costs $15/child and is geared for children aged 4 to 7.
- Expect to remain with your child the entire time, about 75 minutes.
- If your child has ballet slippers, bring them along for the dance lesson portion.
- In addition to its annual production of the Nutcracker, MBT performs a Spring Dance Concert which varies from year to year.
- MBT offers core classes in Early Ballet, Ballet, Jazz and Modern for ages 2-Adult.
- MBT offers birthday parties at their studios.
Photos by Teresa Flaim.