Alberta Ballet and 60 young dancers from across the South Island present the Christmas classic with the Victoria Symphony from Dec. 6 to 8 at the Royal Theatre.

Making the magic of The Nutcracker

Alberta Ballet brings the classic ballet to the stage, aided by 60 young dancers from across the South Island.

Amongst the faces in the audience in the Goh Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker at the Royal Theatre last year, was one delighted 12-year-old who bought herself a ticket and took in the cultural experience on her own.

This year Aleah Rodrigues will return to the theatre for the Christmas classic, but in a more demanding role. Rodrigues is one of the 60 young dancers gracing the stage with the professionals of the Alberta Ballet.

“It’s really cool to work with a professional ballet dancer,” said Rodrigues, a North Saanich resident and student of Pacific Dance Centre. “You don’t usually get to perform with professional ballet dancers everyday. When they do come, it’s a really magical experience.”

When the aspiring choreographer pulls on her palace page pink tail coat and wig this week, she’ll also be sporting more confidence in her abilities thanks to about nine hours of dance instruction weekly.

Wendy Vernon, director of the Pacific Dance Centre junior school has shaped much of that development.

Every Sunday since September, Vernon, also repetiteur for The Nutcracker, has wrangled the sheer energy of 60 young dancers from across the Southern Vancouver Island inside Dance Victoria’s Quadra Street studio. It’s not exactly a breezy task.

“There’s a broad spectrum of ages and abilities. That can present problems. Some can learn it in one rehearsal and others will learn it in 10. Keeping all of those kids excited and motivated and striving presents a certain kind of challenge, but they’re wonderful kids. They all come very keen and interested.”

For many of the eight to 14-year-old kids involved, the production is a once in a lifetime opportunity to move up to the major leagues on the Royal stage. For the parents, and first-time ballet audience members, it’s also an easy introduction to the art of ballet.

“It’s not deep, but it’s not lacking in thoughtfulness,” Vernon said. “It’s designed to be accessible for all ages and anybody who’s not necessarily coming to the performance as an aficionado, or anything. For a lot of the fathers, they’re going to come bringing their kids reluctantly, then walk away saying ‘that was really nice.’ … And let’s not forget the music. If you don’t want to watch, close your eyes. It’s a magical score with beautiful music and worth listening to all on its own.”

The young dancers join the cast from Alberta Ballet, set to the sound of the Victoria Symphony, from Dec. 6 to 8. Children are invited to play dress up with costumes from The Nutcracker at a Sugar Plum Party in the Royal Theatre lobby prior to every performance. Tickets, from $29, at rmts.bc.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BEHIND BARS: Creating a cocktail culture in Oak Bay

Vis-à-Vis head bartender Josh Boudreau brings a wealth of experience to this wine-centric eatery

Get ready to hear a Mighty roar at the Capital Ballroom

Polaris Prize-winning rapper and hip hop artist Haviah Mighty plays Victoria on March 1

Hockey royalty coming to Sidney

Hayley Wickenheiser, Canada’s greatest women’s hockey player, to speak March 26

Ring in spring with Art Gallery glamour

Annual Urbanite event March 20 offers customized beverages and music in an artful environment

Gordon Lightfoot still on the road at 81

Tickets for Island shows in Victoria and Nanaimo, selling well already

MacIsaac/Bachand musical partnership a decade in

Legendary Cape Breton fiddler and talented multi-instrumentalist to play two sold-out shows in March

Comedian Herb Dixon going Full Throttle in Greater Victoria

Comic gearing up for shows in Oak Bay and at Elements Casino next week

ALLAN REID: Chicken bonanza, Korean style

Simple Victoria restaurant knows how to please if your go-tos are chicken and fries

Island MusicFest going to Bahamas to close show

Comox Valley hosting annual musical extravaganza July 10-12 at the Fairgrounds

Kirk Douglas, longtime influential movie star, dies at 103

LOS ANGELES — Kirk Douglas, the intense, muscular actor with the dimpled… Continue reading

Most Read