Trish Ryland, who with Sandy Flury, directs the Park City Dance Academy of the Performing Arts, created the first Park City-based production of "The Nutcracker."

"It is certainly the most well-known of the classical ballets and at the time, I knew there wasn't anything in Park City on an annual basis," Ryland said during an interview with The Park Record. "I thought it would be nice to bring a unique production to Park City."

The Park City Dance Academy will celebrate 10 years of "The Nutcracker," when the production hits the stage at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd., on Sunday, Dec. 16, at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

"This is our 10th anniversary, so to us, these are pretty special performances we're having," Ryland said.

In addition to Ryland, who along with the Dance Academy faculty, choreographed the ballet, four principal dancers Montana Tabar, Isabel Reback, Elizabeth Colton and Sawyer Player are excited to be part of these landmark productions.

Tabar, an eighth grader at Treasure Mountain Jr. High, will dance the Princess Doll and Park City High School senior Reback is the Snow Queen.

Colton, a home-schooled eighth grader, landed the role of the Queen Arabian, and Player, who lives in West Jordan and is a ninth grader West Jordan Middle School, is the Waltz of the Flowers Queen.

"Each of these dancers are unique in and of themselves and that's why they are cast in the roles they have," Ryland explained. "Every one of these girls has a tremendous work ethic. They are very disciplined and focused dancers."

As Snow Queen, Reback feels the pressure of attaining the level of those dancers that came before her.

"I have some pretty big shoes to fill because there have been some amazing dancers who have danced this role," she said. "I just want to uphold the honor of the role and am excited to have the opportunity to do that."

Tabar said she needs to bring a fierceness into her doll role, but at the same time smile and show the audience how much she enjoys dancing.

On the other side of the coin, Colton wants to bring the audience into the Arabian mysticism while Player wants to show how difficult the Waltz of the Flowers is.

"This is the most technical role that I have ever had to dance," Player said.

Like Player, Reback's challenge is to dance the technical steps, but make it look easy.

"So, it's hard for me to convey a sense that I can land all the steps and be technically strong at the same time," she said. "It's the most difficult role I've done in pointe shoes."

Regardless of the level of technique, all the roles have unique challenges.

Tabar's challenge is to convince the audience that she is a doll, while Colton's biggest struggles are to stay in character, keep up the intensity while maintaining a smile.

"Bringing the character into your dancing is the hardest part," Player said. "We work in class to get the steps done, but don't focus on what the character is. That starts when we rehearse and with 'The Nutcracker,' there are so many characters to convey."

Ryland said those challenges are the same for the dancers that have come before.

"It is difficult getting all the dancers, and not just the principals, into character," she said. "Preparing all the dancers, from our littlest one who is five, all the way up to Isabel, for a production that is so magical, is a huge deal, and we know they all need to become somebody else. And that is a big challenge."

Still, there is nothing like watching the dancers become their characters

"I can speak for all the faculty when I say that seeing see the transformation that takes place is magical," Ryland said.

Park City Dance Academy and of the Performing Arts will present "The Nutcracker," on Sunday, Dec. 16, at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd. General admission tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children. Reserved seating is $20 for adults and $15 for children. Tickets can be purchased at the Eccles Center box office or at the Park City Dance Academy, 6554 Creekside Ln. For more information, visit call (435) 658-2345 or visit www.parkcitydance.com.