TRADITION - Dancers rehearse a scene from The Nutcracker at Red Deer College recently. Performances run this weekend on the Arts Centre mainstage.

The Nutcracker is back this Christmas at RDC

Holiday classic includes four performances for residents to enjoy

There is little else in the way of theatrical entertainment that says ‘Christmas’ quite like The Nutcracker. After more than 100 years, Tchaikovsky’s stunning musical score, set against the story of an epic battle between mice and toy soldiers, still draws holiday crowds.

Over the past several years, it’s turned into a sparkling annual tradition at Red Deer College as well.

Performances will run on Dec. 16th at 7 p.m., Dec. 17th at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. as well as Dec. 18th at 1:30 p.m.

The production will take place on the Mainstage in the Red Deer College Arts Centre.

“We’re so pleased to present The Nutcracker to the community, and audiences can look forward to all new surprises within the choreography and story this year,” says Tania Strader, choreographer of The Nutcracker. “Alex Macleod debuts as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and her performance will be a wonderful addition to the ballet.”

Red Deer College’s Conservatory of Dance students will delight audiences with dazzling costumes, magnificent sets and captivating dance.

For Strader, it’s been an absolute delight from the get-go.

“I have been with RDC’s The Nutcracker since 1999 but I believe I started directing it in either 2001 or 2002,” she said.

”I love the Christmas season and all that it can bring to people’s lives. I love being able to share my love of ballet and The Nutcracker with dancers in and around the Red Deer area. The story itself instills that love of Christmas and all of its magic; if you truly believe, anything is possible!”

Each year, as mentioned, Strader adds fresh touches to the magical production as well.

“Every year our cast changes and I have to adapt the story to help create the magic,” she said.

“This year, our cast consists of mainly children ages four and up, with some adults in the adult roles. This year I really wanted to create the image of Clara shrinking, or is it everything growing in her dream? I have tried to really help create this image with not only use of scenery and props, but also who I casted in certain roles.

“Of course we have some new props, new costumes and a few new roles in this year’s production as well. I want to create new magic each year but still have the foundation of the original.”

Altogether, there are about 60 young dancers from around Central Alberta as well as some adult performers involved.

”Each year these young dancers work hard to create a magical experience for the audiences. They grow closer together as the months pass and become great friends; we truly become one big, nutty family!”

Meanwhile, Strader said she hopes that The Nutcracker becomes part of the audience’s family traditions during the Christmas season.

“The magic of not only the ballet itself but when you see the young audience members’ faces after the show and they get to see and meet some of the dancers in the lobby, that is truly magical.”

The Nutcracker is the timeless tale of a holiday party that descends into the realm of magic.

Young Clara receives a nutcracker from her mysterious aunt and strange things begin to happen after everyone has turned in for the evening. Clara is guided through falling snow into the Land of Sweets, where rats and soldiers battle for victory and sweets from around the world dance in her honour.

According to nutcracker.com, “The first performance of the Christmas ballet was held as a double premiere together with Tchaikovsky’s last opera, Iolanta, around the Christmas holiday season on Dec. 18th, 1892, at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

The Christmas ballet was first performed outside Russia in England in 1934.

“I love directing and choreographing The Nutcracker each year,” said Strader.

“It has become part of my Christmas tradition. Every time I hear the music I remember what I have done with it in the past and then think about what I can do with it in the future. I am always rethinking and recreating what could be done to make the show even better.

“I also love to see the dancers grow from year to year. I love that, together with dancers from around Central Alberta, we are able to create a show that is just as magical as a larger ballet company’s production using only younger dancers. It proves that hard work, determination, and the love for what you do can result in amazing things!”

Tickets are available for purchase through the Black Knight Inn or check out www.blackknightinn.ca or call 403-755-6626.

mark.weber@reddeerexpress.com