The Washington Times-Herald

November 30, 2013

Dancers prepare Nutcracker holiday treat

Mike Grant Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — With Black Friday past the holiday season is officially here, but to many people the season is not complete without a performance of The Nutcracker. The traditional Christmas ballet will be performed by the Children’s Center for Dance Education from Evansville in Washington on December 8 and will be featuring more than three dozen local performers.

“This is just a great way to start the Christmas season and a chance to get into the holiday spirit,” said Lissa Wilkerson, stage manager for CCDE.

This will be the first performance of the ballet in Washington in 6 years and the young performers have been working hard to get ready for the show. The cast of local performers includes 37 girls who have spent the last few weeks doing rehearsals at both the Step In Style Dance Studio with Laura Parsons and Brittany Bean and at the Washington High School Auditorium with CCDE director Deena Laska-Lewis.

“The kids take it very seriously,” said Wilkerson. “They all have some kind of part and even though they may be on stage for only a few minutes it takes a lot of effort to get it right.”

Most of the principal parts will be performed by kids from the CCDE, but some of the local dancers will also have featured rolls. Brittany Bean will perform as Mother Ginger and Tori Pride and Hannah Ashby will dance the part of the shepherdesses. “The shepherdesses are part of the international doll segment,” said Wilkerson.

Organizers believe the performance is a tremendous learning experience for the local children.

“They get so much more than dancing,” said Wilkerson. “Even the little ones get on stage and learn to follow instructions. This helps them step forward with confidence in other situations. This is one thing they are learning that they may not normally get. Plus, they are working with a regional dance group and getting direction from a retired professional ballerina.”

The lead roll of Clara will be Lexi Wilkerson, and she also has ties to Washington.

“Dancing this part is a dream come true for her,” said Wilkerson. “Her father grew up in Washington, and her grandparents still live there. She will also be dancing with her cousin Trinity Dyer, who will be one of the bon-bons.”

People who attend the show will be seeing a lot more than just dancing. Thompson Theatrical has created new backdrops that accommodate stages ranging from 17 to 55 feet. The audience will see new props such as an elegant seven-foot tall antique Persian bird cage with a dancing peacock inside. Also, a magic box for dancing dolls will make them vanish and reappear.

The cast also includes some adult performers including feature instructor Dulce Hernandez Perez and her husband Hector, in the parts of Mr. and Mrs. Stahlbaum. Dulce has recent experience with the Nutcracker in Atlixco, Mexico.

“This is a family event,” said Wilkerson. “It features children from age three to 17. It gives the audience the chance to appreciate a story without words, and it’s just a great exposure to the arts. There is truly something here for everyone.”

The Children’s Nutcracker will be performed at 3 p.m. December 8 at the Washington High School Auditorium.

Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased in advance at Knickers and Petticoats downtown. Tickets will also be available at the door.

The Children's Nutcracker will be performed at 3 p.m. December 8 at the Washington High School Auditorium. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased in advance at Knickers and Petticoats downtown. Tickets will also be available at the door.