FAMOUS BALLET - The Nutcracker ballet will be coming to Red Deer College’s mainstage in a few weeks. Carlie Connolly/Lacombe Express

The Nutcracker set to be unveiled on the Arts Centre mainstage

This year, there are 66 performers featured in the Red Deer production

Local performers aged four to 20 are preparing to take the stage this month in the classic production of The Nutcracker ballet at Red Deer College.

“We’re so pleased to present The Nutcracker to the community, and audiences can look forward to all surprises within the choreography and story this year,” says Tania Strader, choreographer of The Nutcracker.

Strader has enjoyed a long role in bringing The Nutcracker to the local stage.

“I have been with RDC’s The Nutcracker since 1999, but I believe I started directing it in either 2001 or 2002,” she said.

“I love the Christmas season and all that it can bring to people’s lives. I love being able to share my love of ballet and The Nutcracker with dancers in and around the Red Deer area.

“The story itself instills that love of Christmas and all of its magic; if you truly believe, anything is possible! Two things I love about the story itself are The Snow Scene – it’s just so beautiful, and the quirkiness of Uncle Drosselmier – we all have that one family member.”

Set to Tchaikovsky’s famous score, this epic battle of mice and toy soldiers continues to draw holiday crowds worldwide. Red Deer College’s Conservatory of Dance students will delight audiences with dazzling costumes, magnificent sets and captivating dance.

Performances run on the Arts Centre mainstage Dec. 15th at 7 p.m.; Dec. 16th at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Dec. 17th at 1:30 p.m.

The Nutcracker is the timeless tale of a holiday party that descends into the realm of magic. Young Clara receives a nutcracker from her mysterious aunt and strange things begin to happen after everyone has turned in for the evening. Clara is guided through falling snow into the Land of Sweets, where rats and soldiers battle for victory and sweets from around the world dance in her honour. The Nutcracker ballet reminds us that there is still a little magic in all of our lives.

This year, there are 66 performers featured in the production.

“The dancers continually work hard to get better at their roles. In the last few rehearsals, they seem to have been rejuvenated and have even more energy than before. They are getting excited for the shows – there are new costumes, some new choreography and the age/experience of dancers in roles have changed, so that also leads to new choreography and costumes.”

For Strader, the production never loses its glittering sense of seasonal magic.

“I love directing and choreographing The Nutcracker each year,” she said.

“It has become part of my Christmas tradition. Every time I hear the music I remember what I have done with it in the past and then think about what I can do with it in the future. I am always rethinking and recreating what could be done to make the show even better.

“I also love to see the dancers grow from year to year. I love that, together with dancers from around Central Alberta, we are able to create a show that is just as magical as a larger ballet company’s production using only younger dancers. It proves that hard work, determination, and the love for what you do can result in amazing things!

Of course, there is that unforgettable score to enjoy as well.

“The musical score is amazing. I love hearing it in numerous Christmas movies and commercials,” she explained. “The music has become very recognizable over the years as it reaches more people.”

Meanwhile, it’s a timeless production regardless of the fresh touches Strader applied each and every season.

“Although there are some things that change every year, like costumes or scenery, it’s the things that don’t change like the music and the story that keeps traditions alive and close to the heart.”

Tickets are available through the Black Knight Inn and typically sell out quickly. Visit tickets.blackknightinn.ca or call 403-755-6626.

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