Arts and Entertainment

Island dancers light up a new ‘Nutcracker’

Marisa McTighe dances the role of Clara in “The Nutcracker.” - Mike Urban Photo
Marisa McTighe dances the role of Clara in “The Nutcracker.”
— image credit: Mike Urban Photo

For many on Vashon, it’s a holiday ritual, on par with trimming a tree or heading out on a frosty evening to carol — if it’s December, it means it’s time for Vashon Allied Arts’ Center for Dance’s production of “The Nutcracker.”

The company’s annual production of the famous ballet is once again slated to fill Vashon High School’s theatre this weekend, and audience members eager to see sugar plum fairies, Arabian princesses, fighting mice and life-size dancing dolls are sure to come out in droves.

More than 70 dancers, ages 6 to almost 60, will appear in the ballet, directed by Dance Center artistic director Christine Juarez with her usual panache.

Each year, Juarez approaches the task of staging “The Nutcracker” with a mixture of enthusiasm and steely resolve, managing hundreds of exits, entries, pirouettes and pas de deux with the precision of an air-traffic controller.

“I have my list going through my head all the time of what I’m supposed to be getting done,” Juarez said. “That’s what I dream about at night.”

For some in the cast, the ballet is a family affair — Ballet 4 student Marisa McTighe will play the role of Clara, whose Christmas Eve dreams weave the plot of the ballet. Her high schooled-aged brother Quinn McTighe will play the role of the Nutcracker Prince. He’ll also dance a freshly-choreographed role as the Arabian Prince, with Maeve Haselton in the role of Princess.

Katherine Misel, the company’s only high school senior, is this year’s Snow Queen, and her father, Rob Misel, will reprise his role as Drosselmeyer, Clara’s godfather, who arrives at the beginning of the ballet bearing gifts that include a magical nutcracker.

Other family connections in the show include the team of Sugar Plum Fairy Meg Sayre and her mother Carol Sayre, who this year worked with Ballet 5/6 students to create beaded and other hand-crafted gift items that will be sold at intermission.

Carol Sayre is only one of a small army of parent volunteers who make the ballet happen.

“I love them. Oh my gosh, I could not do it without them,” said Juarez. “All these people are really thoughtful and organized, and they bring their professionalism to everything they do.”

And despite the fact that Juarez has now directed “The Nutcracker” more than a dozen times for Vashon Allied Arts, she said the experience is never the same.

“It’s always a different show; it never stays the same,” she said. “It’s not a cookie-cutter experience, ever.”


The Nutcracker” will be performed at Vashon High School at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. An abbreviated version of the ballet will be performed for Island students at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7. Tickets to that show are $5. Admission to regular performances is $10 to $13. Visit to buy tickets and find out more about the ballet.


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