The Nutcracker Returns for the Holidays

By Terry Rogers

Diamond Dance Company, nominated for the 2014 Broadway World DE awards in Best New Work, Best Choreography (winner), Best Costume Design, Best Set Design, and Best Community Theater Group announces its 18th season with The Nutcracker Ballet on Saturday, December 3 at 7 pm and Sunday, December 4 at 2 pm at Milford High School.

In the ballet, a young girl, Clara, is presented with a toy nutcracker from her uncle. Her brother becomes jealous and breaks the gift, but her uncle magically repairs it. That night, Clara falls asleep holding the nutcracker and begins to dream. Her brother’s toy soldiers have come to life and mice are scampering around the room. Soon, a battle, led by the Mouse King, ensues against the soldiers. Eventually, the nutcracker becomes involved in a battle with the Mouse King and, when Clara sees the nutcracker is about to lose, she stuns the Mouse King with her shoe, allowing the nutcracker to stab the Mouse King and place his crown on Clara’s head.

Clara is then transformed into a beautiful princess and the nutcracker a handsome prince. The two travel to the Land of Snow and the Land of Sweets, dancing as they travel. Several dance performances have become timeless classics from the ballet, including The Spanish Dance, The Arabian Dance, the Chinese Dance and the Waltz of the Flowers.

 

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“My favorite aspect of playing Clara is when she is begging for more dances to entertain the guests,” Ariana Knowles, who plays Clara in this year’s ballet, said. “She is curious, happy and disappointed all at the same time. You get to see so many emotions. It has been my dream to play Clara since I began ballet four years ago. I think The Nutcracker has become such a timeless classic because it’s a wonderful experience, brings families together and is a holiday classic.”

Ryan Frost, who has played The Nutcracker for the last few years said that he loves the magic of turning a wooden toy into a live character. He especially likes the interaction with Clara and the Mouse King. He originally began performing the role of Fritz, Clara’s brother, but as he got older, he transitioned into the Nutcracker. He likes that the ballet appeals to children and adults alike.

The part of Clara’s Uncle Drosselmeyer is played by Lee DeBaca, a “dance dad” who was recruited a few years ago for the role and enjoyed it so much he continued performing with the company.

“I enjoy playing the role of Drosselmeyer because it allows me to help the audience gain a better perspective and feel of the entire story,” Mr. DeBaca said. “I enjoy that may character is a loose cannon and brings a unique tone to the story. The hardest part is trying not to laugh. This story has such a romantic feel to it. The fantasy and experience of the storyline lends itself to be enjoyed by all ages.”

Cullen Kisner, who plays the Dream Fairy and the Lead Icicle, says that the Nutcracker represents the ideal holiday fantasy that every child has in their mind.

“Every child wants to think their toys come to life and hope they will take them on a magical journey,” Ms. Kisner said. “It is a holiday tradition and, for me, the holidays would not be the same without it. My favorite character this year is as the Lead Icicle because the snow scene is such a beautiful dance. I love the backdrop and the miniature snowstorm. It is truly a wonderful scene.” Her favorite aspect of the Dream Fairy is that she is kind and graceful. Ms. Kisner said that she loves being the one to guide Clara to the Land of Sweets.

Taylor Kimmey will play the part of the Snow Queen, a role that has always been her favorite character. Ms. Kimmey says that the music is beautiful and the costume is gorgeous.

“I plan on expressing the Snow Queen’s feelings of love towards her King, joy of Clara’s arrival in her kingdom and pride in the icicles and snowflakes of the kingdom to the audience through the passion and joy of dance,” Ms. Kimmey said. “My favorite aspect of playing the Snow Queen is that I love the music. It’s beautiful and the choreography that goes with the music is gorgeous. The hardest part is maintaining a consistent joyful, passionate face while performing the dance gracefully without showing any tiredness or exhaustion to the audience.”

Jill Wilkins dances in the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, a role she says she looked up to when she played Clara in previous performances. She says the choreography is beautiful and she uses her dance steps and facial expressions to express the feelings of her character to the audience.

“My favorite aspect about the Sugar Plum Fairy is that she exerts confidence and humility at the same time,” Ms. Wilkins said. “But she also expresses grace and power, kind but in control. It can be challenging to possess the same diversity in character traits and express those to the audience without speaking.”

Ms. Cullen says that the faces of young children are what inspire her when she performs the ballet.

“When I see the looks on their faces, it inspires me,” she said. “It always makes me happy when I see little girls sitting in on my rehearsals watching me practice. Hopefully, I am inspiring them just as the older girls inspired me when I was just starting out.”

Diamond Dance Company is committed to bringing the love of dance to school students and other community groups. In addition to the public performances on Saturday, December 3 at 7 pm and Sunday, December 4 at 2 pm, students may attend a special performance on Friday, December 2.  Individuals are asked to reserve their seats by visiting http://www.diamonddanceco.com

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