The Nutcracker: A Timeless Tradition For Families To Enjoy

The holidays are upon us and as the pressure starts to mount to buy gifts, send cards, and entertain family and friends, perhaps we need a place to go where we can relax while experiencing the joys of the season. During the month of December, we are fortunate to have three dance companies in the upper Northern California region that are providing the public with delightful performances of The Nutcracker ballet: the Redding City Ballet, the Chico Community Ballet and the Northern California Ballet in Paradise.

Attending a performance of The Nutcracker is a heartwarming tradition that many families can  incorporate into their annual holiday festivities.  “‘The Nutcracker’ ties the holidays together,” says 14-year-old Chloe Hudson, who dances the part of the Snow Queen for the Redding City Ballet.

The ballet’s famous score was written by Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky and had its premier in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892. The story centers around a young girl named Clara and the events that take place during her family’s Christmas Eve celebration.

Each company has its own audition requirements to find the right dancers for the ballet’s characters. It takes years of dance experience and/or professional training to play a leading role. Jenna Large, age 16, dances the part of Clara in the Chico Community Ballet’s production and enjoys being on stage for nearly the entire story. “There is so much to do and learn,” she says. “The dancer has to be able to fit the part.”

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Playing the role of Clara’s “naughty” little brother Fritz in the Chico production is Ben Carrier, who at the age of nine brings his athletic training from baseball and karate to the part. He says that in sports he does a lot of stretching and running which helps him prepare for the very active role of Fritz.  Fourteen-year-old Hannah Mikulecky of Redding City Ballet plays one of the big mice, and especially enjoys her part in the battle scene. Hannah explains, “It’s fast, quick and fun. It should be amazing!” At age 15, Carlton Dwyer has performed in the Northern California Ballet’s Nutcracker for twelve years. He has many roles in this year’s performance, and says he especially enjoys dancing as the Spanish Dance soloist.

“The music never gets old to me. It’s so festive,” notes Alex Pierson, age 13, who was selected as Clara for the Redding City Ballet performance. “I love her character and feeling her emotion,” she adds. Amber English, the Snow Queen for the Chico Community Ballet, notes that dancers have to be able to hear the music. What she enjoys about the Snow Dance is that it is “very soft and flowy, and also very hard and sharp. It is fun to dance both parts.” Sixteen-year-old Tara Kalanqui of Paradise loves performing with Northern California Ballet, and particularly enjoys the music in the Waltz of the Flowers, in which she is a principal dancer.

The three production companies provide dancers with a solid technical foundation in classical ballet, and some of their students continue on to professional dance careers. Students who are part of the dance programs learn behaviors that will help them succeed and will benefit them in other parts of their lives, such as cooperation, self-esteem and dedication.

The dancers clearly express their love of ballet, demonstrating serious dedication to rehearsing their parts for the productions. During the performance, Hannah Mikulecky, of Redding, delights in bringing joy to the audience as she dances. “I love seeing everyone in the audience,” she says. “We bring a lot of light into their eyes.” The time dancers spend at the studio together forms lasting friendships. Eleven-year-old Alyssa Brown is a soloist in the Chinese Dance in the Redding City Ballet production and states enthusiastically, “I love my friends and watching them dance!” She also loves dancing her solo.

Attending a performance of The Nutcracker is the perfect gift parents can give their family this holiday season, as well as a timeless tradition that they can pass on to their children. Chase Deeman, age16, the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Chico production agrees, “It’s a holiday classic, something that everyone should go see.”

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December Nutcracker Performances


Northern California Ballet
Paradise Performing Arts Center
(530) 872-1719
December 7: 7:15pm
December 8: 2:15pm & 7:15pm
December 9: 2:15pm
Premium Reserved Seating: $20
General Adult: $15
General Children under 16: $12

Redding City Ballet’s The Nutcracker
(530) 245-1019
Cascade Theatre
December 14 & 15: 7:30pm
From $10-$28
Trinity Alps Performing Arts Center
December 8: 3:00pm
Adults $17
Children 13 and under: $11
Redding City Ballet is part of the Redding Arts Project and is the official school of the ballet.

The Nutcracker – Chico Community Ballet
Laxson Auditorium, CSU Chico
December 13 & 14: 7:30pm
December 15: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
December 16: 2:00 pm
Premium: $26
Adult: $21
Senior: $19
Student/Child: $16
Chico Creek Dance Centre is the home and training school of the Chico Community Ballet.[/sws_red_box]

Darla Greb Mazariegos
About Darla Mazariegos

Writer Darla Greb Mazariegos is a mother of three and part of the North State Parent staff.

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