Families

Dancers of all ages perform this beloved holiday classic

Young dancers practice their steps at a Northwest Ballet Academy ballet class for kids at the Jansen Art Center in Lynden, Sept. 13, 2017. The academy presents its 19th “The Nutcracker” at Mount Baker Theatre and McIntyre Hall in December.
Young dancers practice their steps at a Northwest Ballet Academy ballet class for kids at the Jansen Art Center in Lynden, Sept. 13, 2017. The academy presents its 19th “The Nutcracker” at Mount Baker Theatre and McIntyre Hall in December. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

For the 19th year, Northwest Ballet Theater will perform the beloved holiday classic, “The Nutcracker” by Tchaikovsky.

For some of the behind-the-scenes details and dates for the performances we asked John Bishop, artistic director, for some of the inside scoop.

How many children will you need? Do you draw them from throughout the county?

We have a professional training program through Northwest Ballet Academy and on average 70 dancers from youth to adult are needed to fill the Nutcracker cast. We have had guest dancers from other states and even other countries. However, we basically have enough talent from our own dancers to present a professional-level production every year.

When do you start training?

Our rehearsals that are held on Saturdays start the week after auditions on Sept. 9.

What qualities are you looking for?

There are many “character” roles in addition to the technical dancing roles in the ballet. For instance, the role of Herr Drosselmeyer, which should be portrayed by an older adult, has been performed by Angus McLane, a local actor, for the last 10 years.

How do you teach children to dance in this production?

Most of my intermediate and advanced dancers take class every day of the week and rehearse on Saturdays for up to six hours for some of them. It requires this kind of preparation to perform at a high level and to continue to mature as classical ballet dancers.

Does everyone have to have a ballet background?

There are some characters in the cast who do not have to have a ballet background but must learn simple ballet pantomime in some of the scenes to appear like they are integral parts of the ballet.

What is the performance schedule?

Our performances are:

▪  McIntyre Hall, 2501 E College Way, Mount Vernon: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10.

▪  Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, and Sunday, Dec. 24.

Tickets are $15-$40.

What is it about this production that makes it a timeless favorite?

Nutcracker has a special magic that is almost irresistible for people of all ages, young or old. From the first Nutcracker that I performed in years ago until now, the connection people have with Nutcracker still amazes me to this day. But I know one thing: It never seems to get old.

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