‘The Nutcracker’ is more than just a Park City tradition | ParkRecord.com

‘The Nutcracker’ is more than just a Park City tradition

In 2002, Park City Dance Academy created it’s own "Nutcracker" and over the past 12 years, the production has become a Park City holiday tradition.

"The Nutcracker" features dancing snowflakes, toy soldiers and mice, elephants, puppets and, of course, the Nutcracker Prince, Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The academy has been working on the production since October, but eight dancers — Elizabeth Colton, Katelyn Thompson, Lizzy Arias, Isabel Demschar, Sissy Saarela, Montana Tabar, Jenna Peers and Ashton Johnson — took some time after rehearsals last week to talk with The Park Record about the upcoming performances that will be held at the Eccles Center on Saturday, Dec. 13.

For Saarela, who is cast as the Angel Queen, "The Nutcracker" is a magical concert because it involves the whole studio.

"I think the most magical part of ‘Nutcracker’ is that we all get to combine and dance as a group," she said. "That makes us close as dancers and as friends and a team."

She also likes how the production changes every year.

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"At last one aspect changes, whether it’s new choreography or new costumes or new people," she said. "It’s just fun having a diverse show every year."

Peers, who dances in the Spanish and Waltz segments, is honored to be a part of "The Nutcracker" tradition.

"It brings the community together and there are a lot of people who like to come watch it," she said. "It brings the spirit of Christmas to the town and we love dancing in it."

Johnson, who also dances in the Spanish and Waltz variations, agreed with Peers and said she likes performing for the younger audience members.

"The best part is seeing the little kids who are so happy to watch us dance," Thompson said. "That’s the main reason why I dance. I love to see how my dancing affects people. It’s an awesome experience."

One of the rewarding aspects about "The Nutcracker" is the hard work everyone puts in, said Demschar, who is the Tarantella lead.

"Most people would think that being in the studio for six hours would not be any fun, but when you’re with your best friends and the snow is falling outside, it’s enchanting," she said.

Peers agreed,

"We work super hard and have to give up our Saturday mornings when all of our friends are out skiing," she said. "Sometimes rehearsals can get stressful and the routine is hard and tiring, but the moment you step on stage, it’s all worth it. There is nothing you can compare to that."

Johnson likes the mental quick-change the dancers have to do because of the characters they dance.

"A lot of us have multiple roles that are different and we need to adjust our characters at the drop of a hat," she said.

For Thompson, that concept rings true when she dances the Princess Doll.

"I’ve have to become a doll, which is so hard, because I have to get movements down, but do it in a way that people will see that I’m a toy and not a living, breathing person," she explained.

Peers said she has learned so many different movement styles during "The Nutcracker" rehearsals.

"This production features dances from all over the world and we get to explore these new types of dancing," she said.

In doing that, Tabar has learned how to present her movements in different ways. "Showmanship is important during this production," she said. "When you do it right, it boosts our confidence and acting skills."

That confidence and other attributes learned during rehearsals will help the dancers in their regular lives, according to Demschar.

"Perseverance is one of those things, and commitment is another," she said. "Once you start this, you have to put your whole heart into this production. You practice. You hurt. But that’s good for everyone in our future."

For Colton, who is dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy, "The Nutcracker" is unlike any experience she has had, and she hopes the audience will enjoy the show.

"Being a part of ‘The Nutcracker’ keeps our dancing alive," she said. "Embracing the magic of the performances reminds us of why we’re here, who we want to be and what we want to do in our career."

Park City Dance Academy will present its annual "Nutcracker" performance at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd., on Saturday, Dec. 13, at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. For the past 12 years Park City Dance, directed by Trish Ryland, has presented its original "Nutcracker." Tickets range from $10 to $20 and are available at Park City Dance, 6554 N. Creekside Ln., or by calling 435-658-2345. For more information, visit http://www.parkcitydance.com .