Chesco Dance Center presents three performances of ‘The Nutcracker’
● By Steven Hoffman
Approximately 75 local boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 18 will be starring in three performances of “The Nutcracker” for audiences this Christmas season.
“‘The Nutcracker’ is a magical ballet, and it’s a magical time of the year,” said Kellie Gwaltney-Greer, the owner of the Chesco Dance Center who is directing the show. “It’s a great production for all ages and all skill levels, and we have lots of local kids involved in the production.”
The first performance will be held during Avon Grove’s annual Country Christmas celebration at Avon Grove Intermediate School on Saturday, Dec. 2. Two full performances take place at the Unionville High School at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10.
Gwaltney-Greer said that she has wanted to stage “The Nutrcracker” ever since she opened the Chesco Dance Center in 2009. They did a modified performance of it last year in preparation for staging the full show.
“The Nutcracker” is a timeless classic ballet that tells the story of a toy solider come to life. With its colorful costumes, fantastical score, and angels, toy soldiers, mice, and party girls and boys, the show is a great Christmas spectacle. But it takes lot of work on the part of the cast and crew to stage “The Nutcracker.”
The cast and crew has been hard at work since September rehearsing for the show.
“Things are going very well,” said Amanda Delgado. Delgado, 15, plays Mrs. Stahlbaum.
The Avon Grove High School student said that rehearsing for such an elaborate production with so much choreography has taught her a lesson about the importance of preparation for a show.
“I think I’ve learned a lot about work ethic,” Delgado said, explaining that all the hard work will produce good shows for the audiences.
Kaelynne Moore, 10, was chosen to handle the challenging role of “Clara.” She also performed this pivotal role in the ballet when they did a modified version last year.
Gwaltney-Greer explained that Kaelynne was selected for the role because of her strong acting and dancing.
“She puts 100 percent into it every time she steps on the stage and performs,” Gwaltney-Greer explained. “I think she brings a new kind of energy to role.”
The original tale of “The Nutcracker” is based on a libretto by E.T.A. Hoffman titled “Der Nussnacker und der Mausekonig,” or "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King." The score was written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, and premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg on Sunday, Dec. 18, 1892. Although it wasn’t initially a hit with audiences, it has grown into a holiday favorite for audiences around the world. One reason is the memorable music, which Gwaltney-Greer said is immediately recognizable.
Add to that some exciting new choreography, backdrops, and lighting, and it will be a great show.
It’s a daunting task for Gwaltney-Greer, co-choreographer George Thomson, rehearsal assistant Mindy Kendi, and the team at the Chesco Dance Center to prepare the children for the show.
“It’s really controlled chaos to work with the wide range of ages that you have for this production,” explained Thomson, who has worked on numerous productions of “The Nutcracker” through the years. “You want to make it theirs, and you want to make it special for them,” Thomson explained.
Many of the parents of performers have been helping out with the costumes and all the costume changes that must take place during the show, Gwaltney-Greer said.
Each production of “The Nutcracker” will have its own unique personality based on the young cast. Gwaltney-Greer said that she’s very pleased with how this production is shaping up.
“It’s vibrant and fun, and we definitely have a lot of humor in it,” she said. “It’s been very exciting. A lot of people have worked hard on this.”
The performance at the Avon Grove Country Christmas takes place at 12:30, and is free. There are two performances at Unionville High School, at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., on Dec. 10. Seats for those shows are reserved, and tickets must be purchased at the Chesco Dance Center studio during ticket sale times or at the door during the day of the performances. Tickets are $20 for premium seating in the orchestra section and $15 for regular seating. Tickets for groups of 10 or more are $12 each. Information about ticket sale times can be obtained by emailing chescodancecenter@ gmail.com.