Story last updated at 12/3/2008 - 2:02 pm
JUNEAU - What would December be without "The Nutcracker" ballet? The Sugar Plum Fairy has become almost as iconic as Santa Claus; the Tchaikovsky dances have become Christmas standards.
This year Juneau audiences will be treated to a full-length performance of "The Nutcracker" for the first time Dec. 5-7. Juneau Dance Unlimited (JDU), which has performed the ballet for the past four years, received a $20,673 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation to expand their annual production.
In past productions, JDU omitted the initial party scene in Act 1. Now, with money for new costumes, props and furniture, the party scene will come to life on the Juneau stage.
"We're very grateful to the Rasmuson foundation," said Artistic Director Janice Hurley. "Because of the grant we are now able to put the front on the ballet. This is a whole new act in the performance."
More than 40 performers of all ages, including 35 JDU students and two guest artists from California, will be in the production.
"We'll have young adults and middle-aged dancers from the community," Hurley said. "Adults from the community have agreed to play the role of adults in the party scene."
Five junior company members are featured in the performance, including Zoe Wilson as The Snow Queen, Cailey Nelson as the Dew Drop Fairy, Kiana Ford, Misha Culver and Madison Truitt. Other junior company members will dance the roles of baby mice, real mice and angels.
Other featured local dancers include Gabrielle Duvernay and Anouk Otsea in the role of Clara, Kara Sepel as Fritz, Joseph Schnell as Herr Drosselmeyer and Matthew Warner as the Mouse King.
"The dancers have worked very, very hard and put in a lot of time and effort," Hurley said.
Two dancers from the California Ballet Company in San Diego will dance in the performance. Kristie Cordle-Infante is returning for a second year as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Vitaliy Nechay will dance the part of the Cavalier.
Choreographer Philip Krauter, who choreographed the original JDU performance four years ago, has returned to choreograph the party scene. Music for the production will be a combination of the recordings provided by Krauter and the California Balley Company.
The Nutcracker will be performed Dec. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 7 at 1:30 p.m. at the Juneau Douglas High School auditorium. Tickets for the Dec. 5 performance after Gallery Walk are discounted to $12 for adults and $8 for seniors and children 12 and under. Tickets to the Dec. 6 and 7 performances are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and children and $40 for a family of four or more.
Tickets are available at Hearthside Books, the JDU office at 8420 Airport Blvd., Ste. 202, and at the door.
The JDU Board of Directors will sponsor the second annual Sugar Plum Fairy Party Dec. 7 at 3:30 in the JDHS commons, immediately following the matinee Nutcracker performance. This event will include photos with the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, holiday magic with Jeff Brown, storytelling with Margie Hamburger, a sampling of treats from the Land of the Sweets, and more. Tickets for this JDU fundraiser are $15 each and are available at the JDU office. Seating is limited.
For more information call 463-5327 (12-5) or visit www.juneaudance.com.