Ballet students at Columbia Gorge Dance Academy will perform three shows of “Scenes from the Nutcracker” Dec. 8-9 at the Hood River Middle School auditorium. This is the 15th annual benefit performance for FISH and Providence 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 Providence Hospice of the Gorge. Performance times are Saturday, 1 and 4 p.m., and Sunday, 2 p.m. Different casts will perform at each performance.
Nancy Clement, ballet director at Columbia Gorge Dance Academy, merges her experience of dancing in “The Nutcracker” with Ballet West in Salt Lake City with her enthusiasm to share this traditional ballet with her students.
“Scenes from the Nutcracker” began when her students danced at the local senior centers: Down Manor, Parkhurst House and Hood River Care Center. Community interest began to grow, as did the number of dancers, and so this production was moved to the stage and opened to the public as an annual fundraiser.
Megan Hobbs and Mikayla Kiyokawa, seniors at Hood River Valley High School, and Dominique See, a senior at White Salmon will share the lead roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Dominique, Sierra Johnson and Taniya Roberts all dance as the beautiful Snow Queen. Ashley Hendricks will dance the coveted role of Clara at the 1 p.m. performance, Madi Wofford dances Clara at 4 p.m., and Fiona McGlaughlin is Clara on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Luke Southall, Josephine Stenn and Caroline Hyde are sharing the role of Fritz, Clara’s naughty brother. The Mechanical Dolls this year are Megan Hobbs, Megumi Hosaka and Anneke Virk, and the Dancing Bears will be Olivia Acosta, Elizabeth Bricker and Rory Krehbiel.
In all, almost 400 local students participate in this traditional holiday ballet.
Returning to the cast this year is Gavin McAlpine, who plays the role of Herr Drosselmeyer, the town toy maker. He will dance with Rachel Harry, Hood River High School drama teacher, as the maid. Several local parents are having fun learning the dance to participate in the Party Scene. Steve and Theresa Mason return as Host and Hostess.
The majority of the ballet is staged by Nancy Clement, based on the version by the late Willam F. Christensen, the first American credited with choreographing The Nutcracker. Theresa Mason is assistant director and works with about half of the children, teaching and rehearsing their parts.
Margaret Dallman returns each year to create the lovely snow scene. Amali Koerner and Meeling Kiyokawa are adding some additional costumes, as well as two of the senior students, Elsa Larsen and Sierra Johnson. Gavin McAlpine has added his special touches to the scenery again this year.
Rachel Harry and her students from the Hood River Valley High School drama department volunteer lighting and backstage assistance. Numerous parents come forward each year as “Helping Moms and Dads,” donating money for sets and costumes, and lending their support to ensure a successful production. It is truly a community event.
“Scenes from the Nutcracker” is a gift to the community, as well as a benefit for FISH and Providence Hospice of the Gorge.
For more information contact Nancy Clement at 541-386-6044.