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A Christmas tradition continues

The Nutcracker
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Jan DeGrass Photo

The Snow King and Queen rehearse for December's production of The Nutcracker.

At last week’s rehearsals for The Nutcracker, eight young women were performing en pointe, the ballet term for dancing on their toes. They have not yet donned their fancy snowflake costumes, but already they look fabulous. The air was thick with excitement and exertion.

From the sidelines, other dance students and principal dancers watched, their heads nodding with the movement of the ballerinas in the Coast Academy of Dance rehearsal room. When it’s time for the Snow King (Diego Ramalho) and Snow Queen (Ana Paula Oioli) to perform, the room is quiet, observing.

Kathleen Holmes, The Nutcracker’s artistic director, demonstrated moves, cheered on the dancers and hummed to the crescendos of Tchaikovsky’s familiar music. She is relentlessly encouraging. It’s obvious that rehearsals have been going well for their Dec. 28 to 31 performances at the Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt, a presentation of Coasting Along Theatre.

Miguel Nguyen, dancer with Vancouver’s Coastal City Ballet, plays the part of the cavalier who escorts the lovely Sugar Plum Fairy (Emilie Genezes de Sigueira). He has no trouble with his role. He pointed at his petite partner, and said, “When you look that pretty …” Nguyen is one of the few principal dancers who is not from Brazil. De Sigueira was invited to study in Canada even before she finished high school in Brazil and is now a dancer with Coastal City as well.

“Kathleen asked me to help her pick dancers for the lead roles,” Nguyen said. “These are my friends, but they’re also awesome dancers.”

Nguyen appeared in last year’s Nutcracker, and he regards the experience as his favourite performance to date. After working in the Middle East where the training was tough and touring offered the only rest, he took a year off dance.

Last year’s Nutcracker inspired him again, particularly in the way the entire Sunshine Coast community embraced it. Nguyen said there is something special about dance. He is also interested in drawing and music and is an award-winning contemporary dancer, but it’s ballet that inspires him and gives him technique.

“Ballet is rich in passing on the history and culture of the dance,” he noted. “This ballet will be the same 100 years from now. I can say that I’ve done the same choreography as the ballet greats.”

Nguyen drew applause from the other students as he breezed through mighty leaps and spins while dancing with de Sigueira.

Many local dance students will perform this year. Jarrett Carlington, usually a hip hop dancer, plays the Mouse King. Bronte Hansen plays Clara, the girl whose gift is a magical nutcracker that takes her on a journey to the Land of Snow and Sweets. Conchita Harding has enhanced last year’s frothy, colourful costumes for re-use in this production. Similarly, the set and scenery will be reused with some expansion to utilize the larger stage at the Raven’s Cry.

Many of the dancers joined the principals after rehearsal at a fundraiser at Ricky’s Restaurant.

“Ricky’s was great,” Holmes said. “Fun, festive and so many great new friendships were made.”

Tickets have been on sale for nearly two weeks now, and half have sold already. Adults cost $28.50 and children are $18.50. They are available at Scotiabank in Teredo Square, Sechelt and by phoning 604-989-6050. The reason for the limited ticket outlets is because The Nutcracker will have reserved seating. Holmes regards it as a more elegant solution.

“It’s so people can relax and have dinner before the show and not worry about getting a good seat,” she said. There are performances every evening from Dec. 28 through Dec. 30 at varying times, plus matinées Dec. 29 to 31 at 2 p.m. See for more information. 

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