Nutcracker Ballet Receives Praise

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The Diamond Dance Company held their 14th annual performance of The Nutcracker Ballet this past weekend at the Milford Senior High School Auditorium. The public performances this year was held on Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8. As in years past the dance company also held two performances for area school children and senior citizens from near-by assisted living facilities on the Friday before the public performance.

The performance was led this year by Cullen Kisner as Clara and Victoria Brown dancing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  The Nutcracker Ballet is the story of a small girl who experiences an adventure in a dream-like world at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve. Toys, ornaments and animals come alive as Clara attempts to rescue her nutcracker that was given to her as a Christmas present.

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Twelve-year-old Cullen Kisner danced the lead role of Clara for all four performances. It was her fifth year dancing in the Diamond Dance Company performance of The Nutcracker and her first time playing Clara. Cullen, not expecting herself to receive the role, was excited to dance as the ballet’s lead this year.

“I have been counting down the hours until the performance,” commented Cullen during dress rehearsal on Wednesday night before the opening of the ballet. “My favorite scene is when I get to dance with the Nutcracker, we get to do lifts.”

The role of the Sugar Plum Fairy was performed by seventeen-year-old Victoria Brown. This was Victoria’s second year as the Sugar Plum Fairy and twelfth year performing The Nutcracker Ballet. Victoria’s great-grandmother Tatiana Akinfieva-Smith was a co-founder of the Diamond Dance Company and loved to watch her great-granddaughter Tori perform over the years. Tatiana passed away in September 2011, ten days after celebrating her 92nd birthday.

“It’s really special for me to continue dancing her choreography,” commented Victoria reflecting on her great-grandmother’s love of dance. “I feel like I am living her legacy through this ballet.”

Misty Yencer, co-director of this year’s Nutcracker Ballet, is the granddaughter of Tatiana Akinfieva-Smith and continues her grandmother’s love of the performing arts through all of the dancers involved. Misty has been dancing for over 30 years and has been an active part of the Diamond Dance Company for 12 years.

“My grandmother gave so much to the world of dance and the kids in the community,” commented Ms. Yencer. “It means so much to me to be able to continue her dream and keep her legacy alive.”

The cast for this year’s performance numbered over 50 and included dancers from the original cast, as well as community members experienced in theater. Both public shows were well received as the production saw an increased interest, noted by the increase in audience members from last year.  “It was an amazing experience and more than any of us could have asked for,” stated Ms. Yencer. “It was a bittersweet moment after Sunday’s performance, we were excited about the success but also emotional that it was over.”