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Nutcracker returns to Shepherdstown

By Staff | Dec 12, 2014

A professional dancer will join the Shepherdstown School of Dance for their eighth annual performance of the Nutcracker.

Jordan Nelson dances with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., but on Dec. 13 and 14, he will join the sugar plum fairy in the Shepherdstown production.

Ninety local residents are also involved with this holiday ballet.

“It’s quite a feat.” said the school’s artistic director, Emily Romine. “The dancing is work, but the nutcracker requires acting, character development, props and scene development but it makes it so exciting.”

It also means a lot of costumes. The school’s managing director, Mercedes Prohaska, has been refurbishing, hemming and dyeing clothing for weeks by herself.

She says of each year’s need’s, “The kids are always changing.”

The kids are the focus of the performance, even for fellow cast members. Fifteen year old Richard Yates is the Nutcracker’s Snow King. He says this ballet is fun.

“I’ve known most of them [young kings] for a while. As they get older, you see how they progress,” he shared.

Sarah Baldau, 12, will play Clara. She has been dancing since she was three and says she has wanted this part most of her life.

“You have to portray emotion like in the battle scene with all the mice, you have to look scared,” she said.

The sugar plum fairy who will dance with Nelson is performed by Kelsey Eackles, 17. She and her understudy, Arvel Cifala, age 15, will have a lot of waiting between scene. The young ladies together say it adds to the dance.

“There is a lot of changing costumes and point shoes with barely any time. It’s stressful but once you are on stage, the stress goes away,” they offered.

The audience will see the volume of locals taking part in the production by watching the party scene. Dancer’s parents, adult students at the school, Romine and others will all be on stage.

Performances for the S.S.O.D. Nutcracker Ballet are Saturday Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2.p.m. All performances will be in the Shepherd University Franck Center for the Arts. Tickets will be on sale online through the day of the performance. They are also available at Encore Apparel in Motion and the Franck Center before the shows.