‘Park City Nutcracker’ prepares for its final curtain
The performance will be Dec. 11
When poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the words “all good things must come to an end” in his 1374 poem “Troilus and Criseyde,” little did he know how true those words would ring throughout the ages.
This is the sentiment when the “Park City Nutcracker” takes it’s final curtain call at the Eccles Center stage on Dec. 11.
The tradition started with the Park City Dance Academy 15 years ago, and, with the merging of the academy with the Peggy Bergmann Ballet West Academy earlier this year, the “Park City Nutcracker” will make way for “Magic of the Polar Express” next season.
For Trish Ryland, former co-owner of Park City Dance Academy and now the head academy administrator for Ballet West, this storybook ending is bittersweet.
“It has been our privilege and honor to present this production of ‘Nutcracker’ to the community of Park City,” Ryland wrote in an email sent to The Park Record. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of so many families and their holiday Nutcracker traditions.
“The impact of our shows, especially the elementary school shows is so profound,” she added. “Many young dancers begin their training because they were inspired by ‘Park City Nutcracker.’”
Ryland, who wanted to become a dancer after watching the 1977 Mikhail Baryshnikov “Nutcracker” with Gelsey Kirkland on PBS, said the past decade-and-a-half in Park City has been magical.
“I have been surrounded by a team of great artists and coaches who all have one goal in mind: Creating positive, artistic opportunities for dancers,” she wrote. “[‘The Nutcracker’] has been a huge part of my life over the last 14 years. It has been truly gratifying to see how this show has grown, both technically and artistically. In addition, it has grown to be a family. Past cast members are coaches and mentors. I love this.”
One of the academy’s longtime dancers is 17-year-old Morgan Yokueison, a senior at Park City High School.
She has danced with Park City Dance Academy for 11 years and has performed in nearly every “Park City Nutcracker” role.
After starting off as buffoon, Yokueison danced as a gingerbread cookie, a mouse, the lead Raggedy Andy and was featured in the Arabian, Spanish and Waltz variations.
“I was also part of the Snow corps and was the Sugar Plum Fairy,” she said.
This year Yokueison performs in the Russian dance and is also the Snow Queen.
“Performing as the Snow Queen is an honor for me,” she said. “The only regret I have is that I was never a soldier and I was never in the Chinese dances.”
As she reflects on the past 11 years, Yokueison, who is also part of the Park City High School Dance Team, said she feels the emotions of all the dancers as they prepare to present the last “Park City Nutcracker.”
“Everyone in the studio has felt that this year,” she said. “They feel like, more than ever, they need to pull this off because it’s our last show.”
Like Ryland, Yokueison feels a strong connection with “The Nutcracker.”
“When I was little, I think I was 5, I went to see the Ballet West ‘Nutcracker’ in Salt Lake and that made me want to dance,” she said. “So, performing ‘The Nutcracker’ here reemphasizes why I chose what I do and why I’m here.”
The dancer loves the production’s spirit.
“When we start rehearsing, we can feel Christmas is coming,” she said. “We can all feel the magic as we come together for this special show.”
Since this is her last year at the studio, Yokueison had time to reflect and think about her experiences.
“The environment here is what kept me going,” she said. “The dancers here are like family. I don’t have a social life outside of this.”
That special feeling is due to Ryland and Park City Dance Academy co-founder Sandy Flury.
“They are part of the studio and the environment,” Yokueison said. “I feel like they come with the studio. I feel like there can’t be dance in Park City without Sandy and Trish.
They both are so excited about creating dancers that they’ve stuck with this for so long.”
Flury, who is also now an administrator with Ballet West, said the “Park City Nutcracker” has been a wonderful experience.
“I have had so many members of the community tell me how [much it] means to their families,” Flury said. “This child- and man-friendly one act version gives family’s an opportunity to share the holidays while developing a love and appreciation of dance and ballet.”
The production has also been a rite of passage for so many of the academy’s students.
“It is fun for me to watch the older dancers recreating the Raggedy Ann and Andy dance off stage while the current young cast is performing,” Flury said. “Of course the younger students always look up to the older dancers and imitate them performing their next roll.”
Like with Ryland, Flury looks on the upcoming production with mixed feelings, but is already looking towards the future.
“As hard as it is to let go of the tradition of ‘Nutcracker’ I am super excited about our new show premiering December 2017, ‘The Magic of The Polar Express,’” Flury said. “We are in development now and it is going to be super cool.”
The Peggy Bergmann Ballet West Academy, formerly the Park City Dance Academy, will present the final “Park City Nutcracker” at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd. Tickets range from $20 to $25 for adults and $15 to $20 for children. Tickets are available by visiting http://www.tututix.com/balletwestacademyparkcity or by calling 855-222-2849.
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