‘Nutcracker’ performances benefit FISH

On Saturday, Dec. 14, two performances of “Scenes from the Nutcracker” are planned at The Hood River Middle School Auditorium, performed by local ballet students of the Columbia Gorge Dance Academy.

This is the 5th annual benefit performance for FISH and Hospice of the Gorge. The public is invited to come see this traditional holiday ballet by bringing canned food for FISH, or a cash donation for Hospice. Performance times are 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Different casts will perform at each one.

Nancy Clement, ballet director at Columbia Gorge Dance Academy, danced in “The Nutcracker” over 100 times a year as a professional dancer with Ballet West, a ballet company in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her experience and excitement merge as she shares these traditional holiday dances with her students. “Scenes from The Nutcracker” began in Hood River with performances at local senior centers.

Community interest began to grow, and four years ago the production was moved to the stage and opened to the public as an annual fund-raiser.

Hannah Jacobson, a junior at Hood River Valley High School, will dance the lead role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Hannah Diers and Hannah Wesner will dance the role of Clara. Karl Priest, a middle school teacher in The Dalles, masterfully performs the role of Herr Drosselmeyer, the town toy maker. Dolls and Bears will be danced by Katie Alaimo, Klara Apland, Madeline Priest, and Mindy Taylor. Lydia Diers will dance the role of the Dew Drop Fairy.

The majority of the ballet is staged by Nancy Clement, based on the version by the late William C. Christensen, the first person in America to choreograph “The Nutcracker.”

Margaret Dallman creates the snow scene and works with the Sugar Plum Fairies. Theresa Mason, a ballet teacher at the Academy, has choreographed the Russian dance. Rachel Krummel, drama director at Hood River Valley High School, and her students coordinate the lights and volunteer as back stage assistants.

Numerous parents have come forward to help by sewing costumes, assisting as “Helping Moms,” donating money for sets and costumes, and lending their support to ensure a successful production, according to Clement.

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