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Local ballerinas star in Alameda’s ‘The Nutcracker’

By Alanna Greene

Performers in Alameda Civic Ballet's "The Nutcracker." Photo courtesy of Alameda Civic Ballet.
Performers in Alameda Civic Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.”
Photo courtesy of Alameda Civic Ballet.

It’s that time of the year again; Christmas lights, music and holiday cheer fills the air. The temperature drops and people made plans for Winter Break. And all throughout the holiday season, the ballerinas at Alameda Civic Ballet are lacing up the ribbons on their pointe shoes in preparation for this year’s biggest ballet- “The Nutcracker.”

In 1816, E.T.A. Hoffman, a young German writer, published “The Nutcracker the King of the Mice.” Originally considered a dark, twisted story, this tale has evolved into a family tradition and has been adapted as a ballet all around the world.

“The Nutcracker” ballet premiered in 1892 with choreography by Lev Ivonav and music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The two- part dance revolves around a young girl, Clara, and of course, the Nutcracker prince himself, on Christmas Eve. With the dancing, the music and the costumes, this ballet appeals to many as a great performance to watch for the holidays.

With the help of students from Alameda High and Alameda Civic Ballet, “The Nutcracker” is being brought back to Kofman Auditorium for its eighth year in a row, on Dec. 21 and 22. Choreographed by long time dancer and artistic director Abra Rudisill, the ballet’s elaborate sets along with the original Tchaikovsky score will surely fill many with Christmas spirit.

ACB students range from young elementary dancers portraying the Russian Licorice and Snowflakes to professional dancers Nikki White and husband Ethan White as Arabian dancers.

Many students, such as junior Elizabeth Thorpe, take part in different characters throughout the ballet. “I’ve been participating in The Nutcracker for eight years,” Thorpe proudly said. This year, she will be dancing as a Chinese dragon, snowflake and flower.

When asked about her favorite part of the ballet, Thorpe admits, “I like the second act the most because it’s more upbeat and there’s a lot more dancing and character in it. There are also a lot of professional dancers participating in the second act so it’s better.”

Other dancers in ACB prove that age is just a number when portraying Clara, the lead role.

Freshmen Tiffany Chen and Talia Soglin were both cast as Clara for the first time, but they do not lack in experience. Chen and Soglin were both understudies for the part last year, making them next in line for the role.

When asked what being the main character is like, both girls looked at each other and smiled. “It’s kind of stressful, but it’s fun,” Chen confessed.

Rehearsals began in early October, giving the cast time to bond before the big production. “You get to know the other dancers better because you’re working with them more,” said Chen.  “It’s fun to put a whole production together with your friends,” Soglin added.

From the Dancing of the Snowflakes to the Sugar Plum Fairies, it goes without saying that “The Nutcracker “brings forth undeniable holiday joy to all. The best thing about the production?  Soglin wistfully smiles, “It’s magical.”