Anticipating the Nutcracker |

Anticipating the Nutcracker

Laura A. Ball
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyMolly Allard, left, and Debby Cohen rehearse a scene from Act 2, In the Sugar Plum Fairys Palace.

EDWARDS – The holiday season is a time filled with anticipation: gifts to give, gifts to open, hanging up garland, putting up the tree, lighting the menorah, dashing to parties, spending cherished time with family. This weekend, many residents of the Vail Valley will take time out of their hectic schedules – and a deep breath – to embrace another seasonal tradition beloved by American culture, the Nutcracker.The Vail Youth Ballet Company, including students from the Vail Valley Academy of Dance and community members, will perform the holiday classic at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The production, in its third year at the Vilar, has become so popular with locals that all three performances are nearly sold out. Moving on upIt’s not just audience members who look forward to return of the famed ballet. It’s a tradition the dancers anticipate as well. It’s a chance to move up in the company from Soldier to Mother Ginger to the Sugar Plum Fairy.

With flushed faces, the students gather in the hallway between rehearsing at the Edwards studio Tuesday evening and reminisce about the roles they’ve played throughout the years. “Since we got casted this year we’ve been talking about who’s going to be casted for the next Nutcracker,” said Debby Cohen, 14. “You move up as your abilities change.”Debby, who has been dancing with the company for since she was 9, has been a soldier, a Chinese dancer, a gum drop and a flower throughout the years. This yeas, she plays a doll in Act I The Stahlbaum’s Party and a Spanish dancer in Act II Sugar Plum Fairy’s Palace. Perhaps one day she will play the Snow Queen or the Dew Drop Fairy.Sophe Friedman, 13, began dancing at the academy when she was 3 years old. Sophe’s played a Cherob, a Party Girl, a Mouse, a Soldier, a Chinese dancer, a Russian dancer, and a Page. This year, she plays a main Russian. “The good thing about the Nutcracker is there’s parts for all ages,” she said. “Once you get to be my age you can try out for the company and try out for other roles.”Sophe enjoys playing whichever character she is casted for because “it’s like being in a fairy tale.””It’s very magical,” she said. “I remember when I was a little girl it was so magical to see the Nutcracker.”

Any Nutcracker Vilar Center Director Kris Sabel could bring any production of the Nutcracker he wanted to Beaver Creek but he chooses the Vail company.”When you bring in a professional company to do The Nutcracker they usually want to work with the local theater to fill small roles,” Sabel said. “That’s great for the little kids but using a local company the kids you saw dancing the little roles probably four years ago were dancing the mice and the soldiers are now dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy. It’s a great thing for the community to be able to see the kids develop in these roles.”Sabel also said that with a professional would come ticket prices up to three times higher and only one performance versus three. The Vilar offers $50,000 a year in grants to help the local companies offset the cost of the show, making it possible to perform there.He has really opened the Vilar to us,” said the company’s artistic director Anne Powell. “We are so thankful that he allows our group of local dancers to perform.”

This year marks the third year of the academy’s production at the Vilar, a performance that alternates every other year with the Community Holiday Concert.”This performance has got a lot of heart and a lot of warmth,” Sabel said. “The Friends of the Dance, the Vail Youth Ballet Company and the Vail Valley Academy do a great job. It’s kind of like rooting for the local football team but you’re rooting for the local dance troupe.”This year’s performances are dedicated to Kelly Ferry. Kelly has been dancing with the Vail Valley Academy of Dance since she was 4-years-old. She is currently in Boston reThe NutcrackerVail Youth Ballet Company

6:30 p.m. Sunday 2 p.m.$25covering from brain surgery.Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or, Colorado

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