SIDNEY—There is something for everyone to enjoy this holiday season in the ballet “The Nutcracker,” Sidney Dance Company Artistic Director Molly McFarland said.
The classic ballet will be performed by student dancers with the Sidney Dance Company Friday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m. All performances will be held at the Historic Sidney Theatre, 120 W. Poplar St.
Pre-sale tickets cost $13 for adults and $9 for students, children and seniors. Tickets at the door will be priced at $15 for adults and $10 for students, children and seniors. Pre-sale tickets are available through Thursday, Dec. 13 at Sharon’s School of Dance, Sidney Alive, and The Historic Sidney Theatre.
“It’s a classic Christmastime story, and the performers do a great job of telling the story. Even if you’re not a dance aficionado, you can tell what’s going on through the way that they’re telling the story with their movement,” McFarland said.
The ballet follows young Clara, who receives a nutcracker from her godfather, Drosselmeyer, at a party on Christmas Eve. During the night, after everyone else has gone to bed, Clara dreams that the nutcracker has grown to her size and engages in battle with a Mouse King. Clara watches as the battle commences, and when the mouse king wounds the nutcracker, she hits him with her slipper, defeating the mouse king and ending the battle. While weeping for her nutcracker, he transforms into a prince, and leads her through the pine forest as snowflakes dance around them to the kingdom which he rules, including the land of sweets. After they meet the Sugarplum Fairy and the Prince recounts Clara’s heroic efforts, a celebration of sweets from around the world is presented in Clara’s honor. A final waltz is performed by all the sweets before Clara and the Prince are lead to a reindeer-drawn sleigh. It takes off as the wave goodbye, and all the subjects wave back.
“It’s got all kinds of fantastic magical moments that really speak to your heart during Christmastime. It’s a family favorite, for sure,” McFarland said.
This years’ production is also a family affair. Kara Kellner stars as Clara, and shares the stage with her older brother, Anthony Kellner, who plays the Cavalier, and her older sister, Mariana Kellner, who plays the Sugarplum Fairy. Their parents are Ken and Jennifer Kellner, of Sidney.
Mariana, 17, has been dancing since she was 3 years old and is in her seventh year with the Sidney Dance Company. “The Nutcracker” is a favorite ballet of hers, and the experience has been exciting for her.
“I get to do a pas de deux, which is a dance of two, with my brother. That has been so much fun. We get to dance together and work together a lot,” Mariana said. “It’s been very challenging, especially him being my little brother. Him lifting me and carrying me is not something I prefer, but it’s been awesome. We’re working together really well, and it’s tons of fun.”
Kiris Fox, 17, is the daughter of Claudia and Shawn Fox. This is her eleventh year dancing, her fifth performance of “The Nutcracker”, and her first time performing a classical lead in a ballet. She will take the stage as the Snow Queen, something that is a dream come true for her.
“Now I’m older, and I’m doing the roles I looked up to doing when I was younger,” Fox said. “I started doing it when I was 6, and the last time I did it, I was 14. I saw all these really amazing dancers do it, and now I’m one of the older dancers doing it. It’s definitely a big deal, and very exciting.”
For Fox, who has four previous performances of the ballet under her belt, the biggest challenge for her was the choreography—specifically, breaking the training and discipline of the uniformity that comes with being a member of the corps.
“It’s been a bit difficult for me to find my way as a lead and not a corps member, because it’s been drilled in me since day one that you have to confirm to everyone else,” Fox said. “The cool part of being Snow Queen is, if you don’t get the choreography right away, there’s a little bit of leeway where you can make it your own.”
As Fox speaks with the Sidney Daily News, she is still in form, shifting from first position to en pointe, and back again. This is true for many of the dancers rehearsing for the performance; as they talk and joke with their friends in the studio, they never stop practicing footwork in some way. They will be laughing and playing one moment, but as soon as McFarland calls for their attention, they give it — perfectly poised and polished. And even without full costuming and sets around them, they make the story come alive, the synchronized steps hitting the wooden floor in time with Tchaikovsky’s iconic score. It is a performance that can only be described as magical. It comes as no surprise; in addition to putting in 10 hours of work in dance classes at Sharon’s Dance Studio, the company puts in 10 hours of rehearsal for “The Nutcracker” every week since they began rehearsing the show in October. The production features original choreography from the first rise of the curtain to finale, all orchestrated by McFarland.
“We have incredible talent that can put on the roles and do the dancing. They work very hard, and they are dedicated to what they do,” McFarland said. “It is wonderful working with students that are so dedicated. I think they understand the focus, and the need to be as close to professional as we can be. That’s a treat, to watch that, and to see that grow and see it take on what becomes the show, start to finish.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.