The Park City Nutcracker comes to life |

The Park City Nutcracker comes to life

Liz Yokubison

It’s that time of year again. Take an enchanted journey to the land of delicate snow angels, playful mice, exotic Arabians and graceful Sugar Plum Fairies. Park City Dance Academy will present the seventh annual Park City Nutcracker on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Eccles Center.

For the past seven years, Sandy Flury and Trish Ryland, co-owners of Park City Dance, have produced the show, which includes original choreography created by Ryland herself. The abbreviated version differs slightly from the traditional Nutcracker and includes unique elements such as dancing elephants and lively Raggedy Annes and Andys. "It is only one act and we don’t have the party scene, but the body of the show is the same story of Clara’s dream," explains Ryland.

A strong believer in collaboration, Ryland relies on a number of Park City Dance instructors to bring the show to life. Giuliana Willis’ exceptional vision and choreography have restaged a number of scenes, including the complex Waltz of the Flowers. Other teachers, such Tonia Van Leuven, act as valued rehearsal coaches. Natalia Chapourskaya, the studio’s ballet mistress, brings years of professional dance experience to the Pas De Deux, the final scene where the Prince and Clara bid farewell.

Most Parkites don’t realize the show’s level of professionalism until they see the Park City Nutcracker for the first time. Once they’ve experienced the local production, it quickly becomes a holiday tradition. Performed almost entirely by Park City youth, Ryland says it takes over 100 hours of rehearsal time to create the show.

Amy Andrade, whose daughter, Lauren Beheshti, has been training with Park City Dance for 11 years, is impressed with the caliber of the performance. "I think the Park City Nutcracker is a really professional show. The quality of it just blew us away the first time we saw it," she recalls.

Andrade says that The Nutcracker has given her daughter confidence and grace while teaching responsibility. After dancing a variety of roles including soldier, Chinese dancer, Spanish soloist, and Sugar Plum soloist, Beheshti landed one of the leads this year.

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Ryland says she was thrilled to cast the Park City High School senior in the role of Snow Queen. "I feel really privileged that Lauren is in this role. She brings a real maturity to the role and sets the bar for the rest of the dancers."

Having her daughter perform as the Snow Queen is a thrill for Andrade as well. "She’s a beautiful dancer and we are having people fly in from all over the country to see her this year. We’re proud that all the years of hard work have paid off and she has been given this opportunity," says Andrade.

Intended as a holiday gift to the Park City community, the production has become a gift to younger dancers as well. Alena and Jade Wilson started dancing when they were just three years old and have been in every Nutcracker since. According to their mother, Angie Wilson, "They are so proud to be part of this show. They tell and invite all of their friends."

Alena, now 12, won the role of demi princess doll in last year’s show and this year performs in the infamous Waltz scene. Nine-year-old Jade, who as a toddler would boogie on down while watching Alena dance, has held the roles of buffoon, gingerbread, snow angel and Raggedy Anne.

For the first time this year, the sisters will perform together on stage during the "fight scene" between the mice and the soldiers. Their mom will be watching from the front row. "It’s like you can’t even describe. Your stomach is tied up in knots because you are nervous for them, but you are also excited and proud," Wilson says.

For those who are not ballet enthusiasts, there is still one very important reason to attend this year’s Nutcracker. The eve of the performance has consistently brought a major snowstorm to Park City. In homage to the snow fairies, every Parkite should buy tickets, wax the boards and prepare to spend a magical evening followed by an even more magical powder day.

Get your tickets

What: The Park City Nutcracker

When: Saturday, Dec. 5 at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Where: The Eccles Center.

How: Tickets can be purchased by calling Park City Dance at 658-2345, weekdays after 3 p.m.