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School of Dance performs 10th year of ‘Nutcracker’

By Staff | Nov 25, 2016

Hayley Butler

Shepherdstown Chronicle

On Dec. 10 and 11, the Shepherdstown School of Dance will be performing their 10th annual production of the Nutcracker Ballet.

The two productions of the Nutcracker will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday in the Frank Arts Center on Shepherd University’s campus.

“We have been really lucky since our inception in 2003 that we’ve gotten to perform at Shepherd every year for both our spring performance and our Nutcracker,” said Emily Romine, artistic director for the Shepherdstown School of Dance.

Romine said that although they do two productions of the Nutcracker each year, each performance is different for both the audience and the dancers.

“It’s different every year because we are a school of students and we aren’t a professional company. What I mean by that is not that the quality of the performance is any less but our dancers are growing and changing every year,” Romine explained.

“If there are people who have come to see our particular show year after year they start noticing, like ‘Oh, wait that small person was a ginger kid a couple of years ago and now they’re Clara.’ That’s a really neat element that I think is unique to coming to see a school performance of the Nutcracker,” Romine added.

Mercedes Prohaska, the school’s managing director, said that one of the things that makes this year’s performance different from past years is the age of one of the main characters.

“Typically we do an older Clara, but this year we have a younger Clara who is 10. We usually do a teenager and it is that whole coming of age thing. Our Clara is very young and it is very different. It brings a little bit of innocence to the Nutcracker which is what I grew up with,” Prohaska said.

Sarah Downin, the 10-year-old who will be playing Clara, said that having a bigger role is helping her become a better dancer.

“I think having a bigger role at my age is making me practice harder and it’s definitely making me a better dancer because I’m dancing a lot more than I probably would with all of the other parts,” Downin said.

Sydney Butler, a 16 year-old dancer with the school who will play the part of Chinese alongside of her younger sister Gabrielle, said that her favorite part of this year’s performance is spending time at the studio.

“I like spending time with everyone and having jokes and fun but also working hard at the same time,” Butler said.

Marleigh Means, a 16-year-old dancer who has been dancing at Shepherdstown School of Dance since she was two years old, will be playing the part of the Snow Queen this year.

“I like rehearsing for the Nutcracker because you get to dance every day all week but then at the end of the week you finally get to do something with it and it’s a lot of fun,” Means said.

The tickets for the Nutcracker Ballet are on sale until Dec. 10 for $15 for children under 12 and $25 general admission at www.shepherdstownschoolofdance.com or can be purchased with cash or check at Encore Apparel in Motion located at 108 E. Washington Street in Shepherdstown. For ticket information call 304-264-1832.