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Young dancers shine in a new ‘Nutcracker’
A familiar holiday treat will arrive this weekend as more than 60 young Island dancers, ages 8 to 18, are transformed into mice, soldiers, snowflakes, dancing dolls and other beloved characters in Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” ballet.
“The Nutcracker,” an annual presentation by Blue Heron Dance, is helmed by the dance company’s artistic director, Christine Juarez.
Juarez has refreshed this year’s presentation of the ballet with new choreography, set and costume pieces, more short dramatic vignettes and the inclusion of more local boys in the show than ever before.
“We are building a culture of dance for boys and young men,” Juarez said in a recent article in Island Arts, a monthly publication of Vashon Allied Arts. Classes for boys at the Blue Heron now include sports dance and ballet.
This year’s Nutcracker Prince, played by teenage danseur Quinn McTighe, will be joined by a gaggle of other boys, including Colin Pottinger, who will revisit the role of Fritz. Cornish College of the Arts danseur Sam Opsell will again join the company for a pas de duex with the Sugar Plum Fairy Camille Kappelman.
Kappelman, a senior dancer who will float across the stage as the Sugar Plum Fairy, has danced with the Blue Heron company since she was a little girl. Over the years of her involvement, her roles in the show have also included Clara, the Snow Queen, the Arabian princess, a party girl, a snowflake, a soldier and a mouse.
Another senior, Veronica Jannetty, will cap 15 years as a Blue Heron dancer by appearing in this year’s “Nutcracker” in two pivotal roles — a dancing doll and the fetching Arabian princess.
Other young dancers, following in Kappelman’s and Jannetty’s footsteps, are now rising through the company’s ranks.
Maisy Bockus and Grace Derrer will share the role of Clara, and 10-year-old Marissa McTighe will appear as another dancing doll.
Meg Sayre will lead the famous Dance of the Flowers as the Waltz Queen, and Mara Drape will bring dramatic swordplay to her role as the Mouse Queen. Katherine Misel, as Mother Ginger, will sport one of the ballet’s most elaborate costumes — a giant skirt that hides an adorable troupe of tiny dancers.
Audiences can also expect to see a few familiar Island adults joining in the fun on stage with cameo parts in the ballet.
As usual, the magic of the show will extend beyond the stage and into the lobby of Vashon High School’s theater — a space that will be transformed into a land of sweets. Ornamental nutcrackers and other gift items will be for sale, with all proceeds benefitting VAA’s ever-expanding dance program.
A total of five performances of “The Nutcracker” will take place, with two of those offering something a little different.
A special narrated, abbreviated version of the ballet for preschoolers will take place at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9 — tickets to that show are only $5. And at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, there will be a pre-show performance of seasonal tunes by Vashon Carolers, an ensemble directed by Joe Farmer.
For Juarez, it’s a race to the finish line of a ballet that wouldn’t be possible without extensive community collaboration.
“I’m so grateful for everyone who pitches in to make this happen,” she said.
“Nutcracker” performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, at Vashon High School. A special abbreviated version of the ballet for preschoolers will take place at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets, $10/$13 for regular performances and $5 for the preschool show, are on sale at the Blue Heron, Heron’s Nest, Vashon Bookshop, Thriftway and by calling 463-5131.