Diamond Dance Company will host their 15th annual performance of The Nutcracker Ballet on the first weekend of December at the Milford Senior High School Auditorium. The public performances this year will be held on Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8. As in years past the dance company will also hold two performances for area school children and senior citizens from nearby assisted living facilities on the Friday before the public performance.
The Diamond Dance Company is a non profit organization comprised of ballet students in the Kent and Sussex County areas. Over these past years, Diamond Dance Company has introduced 30,000 thousand school children to share in the magic of this seasonal favorite. Last year, the Company opened a school in downtown Milford, dedicated to continuing the legacy of its co-founder Tatiana Akinviev-Smith, bringing together many of her former students throughout the state of Delaware and giving the opportunity for new students to engage in the brilliance and artistry of dance.
The performance this year is led by Jillian Kerr, from Lake Forest Central Elementary school, dancing as Clara and Hayley Schuster, of Caesar Rodney High School, playing 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.
Director, Misty Yencer, is honored to continue the legacy of her grandmother Tatiana Akinviev-Smith, co-founder of Diamond Dance Company, and excited to see dancers coming back year after year to strengthen the company. “I think it is so amazing we had so many people in the beginning that left the company and now have come back,” commented Yencer. “We are revamping a lot of our sets from the original Nutcracker ballet fifteen years ago and featuring dancers that have been a part of our family for years.”
New to the ballet this year, co-directors Misty Yencer and Kimmy Noll have added choreography to several of the scenes to highlight the strengths of each dancer, new costumes and new dancers, as the cast this year grows to over 75 performers, 65 of which are under the age of 26.
Eleven-year-old Jillian Kerr will dance the lead role of Clara for all four performances. This marks the sixth year that Jillian has been with Diamond Dance Company and her fist time playing Clara in the The Nutcracker performance. Jillian has studied dance under the direction of Terianne Utley, Michelle Parisi, Lindsay Warren, Tori Brown-O’ Brien, Bliss Soucek and Misty Yencer and has performed in Snow White, The Wizard of Oz and at the Delaware Dance Festival. Ms. Jillian Kerr is the daughter of Steven Kerr and Karen Kerr and granddaughter of John and Cathy Piechura, Jan and Victor Weiers and Sam and Kathy Kerr.
The role of the Sugar Plum Fairy will be performed by seventeen-year-old Hayley Schuster. This year marks her second year performing with Diamond Dance Company as she is also a six-year company member performing with Delaware Ballet. This will be Ms. Schuster’s sixth year performing in the Nutcracker with her many roles including Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, Lead Arabian, Arabian soloist, Butterfly, Snow Corp, Flower Corp, Lead Marzipan and Corp, Spanish Corp, Candy Cane Corp and Party Scene Mother. She has also performed as Glinda the Good in Diamond Dance Company’s Wizard of Oz and Delaware Ballet’s productions of Cinderella and Peter Pan. Hayley is the daughter of Jennifer Rios and Robert Schuster and has two very caring and supportive step-parents Luis Rios and Susan Rice. She is the granddaughter of Ronald and Elsie McCarty, Gayle and Skip Schmoyer and Charles Schuster.
The public performances of The Nutcracker will be on Saturday, December 7 at 7 pm and on Sunday, December 8 at 2 pm. The performances will be held in the auditorium at Milford Senior High School. For additional information on the performance and to purchase tickets individuals can visit www.southerndelawareballet.com.