Nutcracker hinges on children

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    By Lynne Marie Judd

    As children all over Utah write wish lists, there are some who are wishing to remember their dances as they nervously wait to step on stage.

    Nearly 500 children will have the chance to perform in Ballet West and Utah Regional Ballet productions of “The Nutcracker” this year.

    Children are a major focus of every production of The Nutcracker, said Kay Lobb, Ballet West Public Relations manager.

    Roles played by children include soldiers, ladies in waiting, servants, pages and children in the party scene, she said.

    In September over 500 children audition for roles in Ballet West’s production, said Kay Lobb, public relations specialist for Ballet West.

    After roles are cast the children practice one or two hours each week until production week when rehearsals become more intense, she said.

    Children must audition for roles according to their height and skill levels, said Jacqueline Colledge, Utah Regional Ballet artistic director.

    Utah Regional Ballet holds auditions in October for children’s roles.

    One of the most significant roles is Clara, said Colledge.

    Clara carries the entire production and the role is a lot of responsibility for a young dancer, she said.

    Hannah Reid of Woodland Hills will dance the role of Clara in the cast of Utah Regional Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” this year.

    It will be Reid’s sixth year dancing in “The Nutcracker” and her first time as Clara.

    When cast as Clara, Reid said she was surprised and decided she wanted to do her best.

    While practicing she noticed that having people look up to her made her want to be even better.

    “You have to be humble, not snotty or mean,” Reid said.

    Rehearsing four hours a week and driving 45 minutes to and from rehearsals has required some sacrifices, Reid said.

    “I can’t do stuff with my friends and I have to catch up on school during Christmas break,” she said.

    Meeting other young dancers and learning by working with professional dancers makes the sacrifice worthwhile for Reid, who hopes to dance as a professional someday.

    Although sacrifices are required, dancing in “The Nutcracker” is a great opportunity, Colledge said

    One skill the children learn is how to follow a conductor and live orchestra, she said.

    “It is quite an experience for these young dancers. For some it will be their first time performing on stage” said Ben? Arnold, rehearsal mistress for Ballet West’s “The Nutcracker.”

    Utah ballet companies’ productions of “The Nutcracker” also provides opportunities to children who do not dance.

    Both Ballet West and Utah Regional Ballet hold matinee performances for school children at a reduced cost.

    “These special performances are great ways to introduce children to classical dance. For many of these children, this presentation of The Nutcracker will be the first time they enter a theatre and see a professional performance,” said Peter Christie, Ballet West director of Educational Programs.

    The children come dressed up and have a unique opportunity to learn about theatre etiquette, Colledge said.

    Ballet West will present “The Nutcracker” December 8-30 at 7 p.m. with matinee performances at 2 p.m.

    Ticket prices are $10- $55 and are available by calling 1-888-451-ARTS. More information is available at www.balletwest.org.

    Utah Regional Ballet will present “The Nutcracker” December 8-16 in the DeJong Concert Hall.

    Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets prices are $24, $18 and $10 with a $2 discount for students, seniors and faculty. Tickets and more information are available at the HFAC ticket office or by calling 378-4322.

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