Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Journey to the ?Land of Snow?

?Nutcracker? to be staged by Ballet Idaho

Express Staff Writer

Ballet Idaho will perform the classic holiday ballet ?The Nutcracker? at the Community Campus Theater in Hailey. Courtesy photo Ballet Idaho

In two of the most beloved of all Christmas' performing arts productions, "The Nutcracker" and "A Christmas Carol," a world of captivating nightmares is enacted. Nightmares make for great drama. Fortunately, both the composer of the former, Petr Ilich Tchaikovsky, and author of the latter, Charles Dickens, had a lighter side and knew how to balance the frightening with the delightful.

Ballet Idaho's production of "The Nutcracker" is hardly a nightmare for the cast. It is, in fact, a dream. In this production, a bevy of Wood River Valley children, under the direction of Hilarie Neely, director of the Footlight Dance Centre, will live their dream when they join the professional company in this classic ballet.

Tchaikovsky based his most beloved ballet on E.T.A. Hoffman's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King." It was first preformed in St. Petersburg in 1892, a year before he died at age 53.

Sponsored by the College of Southern Idaho Blaine County Center and Hailey Rotary, Ballet Idaho's production will be staged at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Community Campus Theater in Hailey.

"All the kids performing in 'The Nutcracker' are so excited," Neely said. "We have 45 kids from Footlight Dance Centre who are dancing."

Kindergartners and first-graders who will play baby mice are Arlee Allred, Alyssa Carlson, Melody Gaillard, Malaunie Gerard, Abbie Heaphy, Amelia Madsen, Katey Maxwell, Emelia Morgan, Juliette Rollins, Sophia Schoen, Tate Stearns and Taylor Telford.

First- to fourth-graders who will play angels include Willa Beriker, Hanna Blackwell, Jasmine Doan, Ellie Gorham, Kodi Ann Heyrend, Scout Hutchinson, Kaia Jensen, Blake Letourneau, Loni Unser, Pilar Pennell, Destinee Valencia and Abigail Widell.

The third- to fifth-graders who will play ladybugs are Ashley Dreyfus, Loni Unser, Emma Poe, Cassidy Simpson, Catrina Stokesbary and Moyo Tian.

Middle school kids who will appear as party children throughout the entire first act are Keah Jones, Danielle Theobald, Moyo Tian, Senecca Alberdi, Laurel Gaeddert and Alberta Jefferson.

Eight advanced dancers—Faith Coben, Hanna Curran, Mariah Davis, Brita Gaeddert, Ali Maricich, Dylan Peterson, Tori Poole and Lauren Prentice—will dance in the lovely section "Waltz of the Flowers."

"We have been rehearsing since Oct. 1 when the company came over and held auditions," Neely said. "Both Helen Collette and I have been conducting rehearsals since then. The dancers will work with the company the day of the performance. Wood River High School Performing Arts students will help with the technical side of the performance. They will help load in, run the show and load out. It should be a wonderful experience about how touring works."

The story follows Clara, who is given a nutcracker by her godfather at a party on Christmas Eve. After the guests leave, Clara dreams about mice battling toy soldiers, dolls and fairies that come to life and the nutcracker, which magically transforms into a prince.

"This performance not only will be a treat for the audience, but also for the lucky children who get the memorable experience of performing on stage with professional ballerinas," said Jenny Emery Davidson, director of CSI Blaine County.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. Tickets are available through the CSI office. For more information, call 788-2033.

'Holiday Spirit'

Footlight Dance Centre dancers will present "Holiday Spirit" for the Blaine County Seniors on Friday, Dec. 7, at 12:30 p.m. and at Blaine Manor at 1 p.m.

The annual event is a "wonderful way to give back to seniors," said Hilarie Neely, director of Footlight Dance Centre. "We started doing this a few years back. The kids always look forward to it, especially the tappers. This year we invited Sun Valley Summer Symphony Music Conservatory's string ensemble to accompany us."

Dancing will be members of Intermediate Ballet I, which encompasses fifth through eight grades, and advanced tap.

Everyone is welcome to attend the free presentation.

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