Community Day finds NBMAA in holiday mode

Published on Sunday, 10 December 2017 22:29
Written by Erica Schmitt

Staff Writer

NEW BRITAIN - Sabrina Lanza beamed like a bulb on a Christmas tree as she caught sight of her family at the New Britain Museum of American Art Sunday.

Playing Fritz in the Ballet Theatre Company’s production of “The Nutcracker,” the 11-year-old was thrilled to be a part of a special performance in her hometown.

Thirty members of the company previewed their production, which will run Dec. 14-17 at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford.

“We’re here to give the New Britain community a behind-the-scenes, up-close and personal version of the show,” Artistic Director Stephanie Dattellas explained. “You get to see the sweat dripping and hear the heavy breathing. It’s a totally different experience here than it is in the theater setting.”

Theirs was one of several performances during the NBMAA’s Holiday Community Day.

The audience enjoyed a variety of excerpts, including “The Kingdom of The Sweets,” from Act 2 of “The Nutcracker.”

Four lollipop carriers from the scene handed out programs at the entrance to the Stanley Works Center.

“The Ballet Theatre Company does a wonderful job of incorporating the little kids in with the adult cast,” pointed out Jessica Clement, whose daughter Quinlen Greenbaum, 7, played one of the carriers. “It’s fun to see them grow with the production.”

Meanwhile, in the studio downstairs, Claude Murdy and her son Matthew, 9, stamped stars, hearts and trees onto sheets of construction paper. The Plantsville residents were pleasantly surprised to discover free admission and several holiday-themed activities during their biweekly museum visit.

“We come every other weekend and we had no idea today was Community Day,” Murdy said.

Coordinator of Family and Community Programs Kate Swanson carved shapes into potatoes before the class. Participants dipped those tubers-turned-tools into tempera paint to stamp large sheets of paper. After hanging to dry, they were taken home to encase presents as a handmade alternative to store-bought wrapping paper.

Upstairs in the ArtLab, volunteer Siobhan Dornfried celebrated three holidays with children and their families. Plates were painted green, cut in a spiral shape and adorned with paper ornaments to become Christmas trees. On another table pipe cleaners were transformed into menorahs for Hanukkah. The group also made placemat-like squares called “mkeka” - traditional Kwanzaa décor.

“We’re giving people a different perspective,” Dornfried said. “December is all about celebrating everyone and showing people the different traditions of each culture.”

The 16-year-old Berlin resident said she had been coming to the museum since she was a little girl - the last two years as a volunteer.

Later in the afternoon, the Whitechapel Handbell Choir delighted visitors with seasonal tunes.

The holiday celebration continues Friday, Dec. 15, with Museum after Dark: Ugly Sweater Party at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at

Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or

Posted in New Britain Herald, , New Britain on Sunday, 10 December 2017 22:29. Updated: Sunday, 10 December 2017 22:31.