"The Nutcracker," a Park City tradition | ParkRecord.com

"The Nutcracker," a Park City tradition

Nine years ago, Emily Bregger performed in her first ‘Nutcracker’ ballet presented by Park City Dance.

"I remember my first class when we were told we were going to do this performance called ‘The Nutcracker’ and it would be a low-key community show," Bregger said during an interview with The Park Record at the dance studio. "I was cast as Raggedy Andy because I was so tall."

Bregger, who turns 18 at the end of the month, is now the Snow Queen.

"I couldn’t be more excited to have my friends who have graduated the Park City Dance program and have danced these roles before come to see me," she said. "I look forward to after I graduate when I can come to the production in the future to see all these little dancers I know dance the big-girl parts."

The Park City Dance’s annual production of "The Nutcracker" will be presented at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd., on Monday, Dec. 19.

The performance will feature guests David Riskin as the Nutcracker Prince and Stacie Brown as Clara from the University of Utah’s department of ballet.

Recommended Stories For You

Over the years, the performance, choreographed by Giuliana Willis, Tonia Blomquist and Trish Ryland, has become custom for many Park City residents, said Sandy Flury, who co-directs and owns Park City Dance with Ryland.

"The thing that has been neat this year is when I’m out in the community, people stop me and ask when ‘The Nutcracker’ is," Flury said. "They tell me it kicks off their holidays and they’ve made it a family tradition."

Still, the performance attracts out-of-towners and even visitors from other states.

"Because we present the show when a lot of tourists come into town, we’ve had people from all over the country call for tickets, so it’s become part of the fabric of Park City’s holiday season," Flury said.

Unlike other productions of "The Nutcracker," this version forgoes the traditional sequence of starting with a Christmas party and kicks off when the main character, Clara, is asleep.

"We start with Clara’s dream and involve all her dolls, her candy, snowflakes and the waltz of the flowers," Flury said. "We do have some of what people would call the ‘traditional’ dances in as well, with the Chinese, Arabians, Russians and Spanish dances, but we have things you will not see other ‘Nutcrackers,’ like Raggedy Ann and Andy and elephants."

Ryland conceived the idea of creating a unique "Nutcracker," because Park City is a unique town.

"The production is pretty much the same one we presented nine years ago," Ryland said. "Very briefly, we discussed presenting a two-act production, but the audiences, overwhelmingly respond and tell us they love the fact that we do a one-act. Young kids can sit through this with no problem."

Still, each year, Park City Dance tries to add something new, Flury said.

"This year it’s new costumes and scenery," he said. "We also have a new scene called Land of Sweets that features our younger dancers, because we are committed to having all ages in this show."

The youngest dancers who will perform in "The Nutcracker" are six and seven years old, Ryland said.

"It’s another performing opportunity and our studio philosophy is aligned with that," she explained. "We give professional training and performance opportunities. ‘The Nutcracker’ fulfills both of those criteria."

Bregger remembers looking up to the older dances when she was younger, but didn’t think it was possible to dance those roles.

"I knew there were the big girls who danced in the platter tutus, but I didn’t comprehend the actual parts they danced," she said with a laugh. "As I grew up, I saw all the glitter they had and I wanted to dance in a glittery costume for Snow Queen."

When she steps on stage, Bregger will adhere to Ryland’s traditional choreography, but also add in her own personality.

"I like to live in the moment, and while on stage I will make the role my own through my movements," she said. "I dance the same choreography, but I add a few personality things here and there to make it uniquely my own.

"The Snow Queen is the biggest role I’ve done so far and it’s an honor to do it," she said.

"To see how Emily brings such a joy and delight to her role is a magical performance," Ryland said.

The Park City Dance will present the ninth annual "Park City Nutcracker," on Monday, Dec. 19, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd., at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. This version features battling mice and soldiers, snowflakes and flowers, dancing dolls, and the popular elephants. Tickets range from $10 to $20 and are available by calling (435) 658-2345 or visiting http://www.parkcitydance.com