A Grand Rapids LAND OF SWEETS Comes To DeVos Performance Hall For Holiday Shows

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A Grand Rapids LAND OF SWEETS Comes To DeVos Performance Hall For Holiday Shows

In Act II of "The Nutcracker Ballet," the Prince whisks the slumbering Clara away to the Land of Sweets, where the Sugar Plum Fairy holds court in a magical land of make believe.

Guests at the Grand Rapids Symphony and Grand Rapids Ballet holiday programs in December will discover a Land of Sweets as soon as the walk through the doors of DeVos Performance hall.

To celebrate the season, culinary students at Grand Rapids Community College's Secchia Institute for Culinary Education are creating a sugary wonderland filled with ballerinas in stained-glass sugar and bells made from blown sugar in DeVos Performance Hall in December.

Guests attending performances of the Grand Rapids Symphony's Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops and Old National Bank 'Cirque de Noel' and Grand Rapids Ballet's "The Nutcracker" will be greeted by the confectionary delight in the lobby of DeVos Hall.

The Land of Sweets created by baking and pastry students at GRCC will be on unveiled on Thursday, Dec. 5 for the opening of the Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops. It will remain on view through the final performance of "The Nutcracker" on Sunday, Dec. 22.

Led by their professor Chef Gilles Renusson, a certified master pastry chef and renowned sugar artist, students already are at work building the elaborate display that will be installed in the outer lobby.

Passersby will be able to see portions of it through the window, but only concert goers will be able to see the entire display up close from every angle.

Such elements as sugar ribbons, royal icing and marzipan will be used to create figures including the Sugar Plum Fairy, Nutcracker and a symphony orchestra conductor as well as musical motifs and depictions of dancers in the display that will include a 6-foot-tall croquembouche.

Some 14 students enrolled in the Pastry Centerpiece and Wedding Cake class, a capstone course in the Secchia Institute, are working on the project. The class teaches the major aspects of artistic decorations in pastry arts such as creating wedding cakes and centerpieces for tables and buffet presentations.

The class has been working on this project since the start of the semester, brainstorming, designing and then creating all the components. Soon they'll begin the painstaking process of transporting the delicate confectionary artwork from the GRCC bakeshop to DeVos Performance Hall.

The project is a practical application of the skills the students are learning in class, with the added bonus of having their work on display for thousands of people to see and add to the excitement of the holiday.

Chef Gilles Renusson, who recently was awarded the Chevalier du Merite Agricole - The Order of Agricultural Merit - from the French Minister of Agriculture for his decades of outstanding service in the culinary arts, is directing the project.

"For the students, this is a wonderful opportunity for them to gain practical skills and really master them and also to have their work be seen and appreciated," Renusson said. "And we get to work with our partners in the city and tell people about the programs we have and work we do at the college."

Tickets for "The Nutcracker" start at $20 for evening performances while supplies last. Call the Grand Rapids Ballet at (616) 454-4771 or go online to GRBallet.com.

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