Diamond Dance Company Prepares for Nutcracker Ballet

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This year’s production will be the 13th annual performance of The Nutcracker Ballet by the Diamond Dance Company. The public performances this year will be on Saturday, December 3 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, December 4 at 2 p.m. As in years’ past the dance company will also hold two performances for area school children and senior citizens from near-by assisted living facilities on the Friday before the doors open to the public.  This gives an opportunity to hundreds in the Greater Milford Area who might not otherwise have a chance to experience this professional performance.

The performance will be led this year by Taylor Hogan, of Milford, dancing as Clara and Victoria Brown-O’Brien and Angela Zielen sharing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  Guest dancers from First State Ballet Theatre in Wilmington including Jake Allison, Justin Estelle and Taylor Gillan will accompany local dancers for all of the performances.

Misty Yencer, granddaughter of co-founder Tatiana Akinfieva-Smith and mother of Sugar Plum Fairy Victoria Brown-O’Brien, is the main production coordination of this year’s performance and has been extremely busy organizing scheduling for rehearsals and coordinating instruction in preparation for the performance. The night of the production Ms. Yencer will be working backstage and also be included this year in a performing role.

Susan Grant, President of the Diamond Dance Company Board of Directors, has been facilitating costuming and organizing the logistics of the performance.

“Misty and I have an unbelievably supportive team of volunteers to help with the never-ending tasks we encounter,” commented Ms. Grant. “Although the amount of effort and time going into a production at times seems endless, the rewards are even greater. The applause and hearing: ‘Our Family Holiday Season begins with your production of The Nutcracker’ is priceless.”

Rehearsals for the December performances began early in September. The younger dancers attend rehearsals at least 5 hours each week, as the seniors practice even longer, many times with individual instruction.  As the production gets closer, the amount of time spent rehearsing is increased. The cast numbers over 50 this year and includes dancers from the original cast, as well as community members experienced in theater.

This year’s performance will be missing something very important to the history of the Diamond Dance Company, Co-founder Tatiana Akinfieva-Smith. Tatiana passed away on September 15th, after celebrating her 92nd birthday 10 days earlier.  Tatiana was born in Russia, but fled that country as an infant with her family, went on to become a famous dancer in Europe, was imprisoned for refusing to become a communist and finally settled in the United States after marrying an American Soldier stationed in Italy.  Tatiana’s presence will be felt through the performance of several dancers that Tatiana mentored over the years and the many costumes that Tatiana created for The Nutcracker performance.

“Each year we strive do something better but this year it will be especially important to the dancers to perform better to honor Tatiana,” commented Ms. Grant. “After Tatiana passed we saw donations from across the country pour in to set up a scholarship for younger dancers. The dancers have worked very hard to make this performance a special one.”

The public performances of The Nutcracker will be on Saturday, December 3 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, December 4 at 2 p.m. The performance will be held in the auditorium at Milford Senior High School. For additional information on the performance visit www.southerndelawareballet.com.