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‘Nutcracker’ Comes to Camp Verde

The Sedona Dance Academy will returns to the stage for its winter showcase with its community performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s classic Christmas ballet “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 2 p.m. at the Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts in Camp Verde.

The ballet, based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” tells the adventures of a little girl named Marie. Marie imagines her nutcracker, along with other toys, waking to life as she falls asleep beneath the Christmas tree after her family’s holiday celebration. As a team, they fight a victorious battle against the Rat King. Afterward, the triumphant friends travel to the Land of Snow and, eventually, the Kingdom of Sweets, where they meet the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The students of Sedona Dance Academy from across the Verde Valley, who range from ages 2 to 18, will take part in the production showcase of all of the company’s dancers, which will include displays of styles from classical ballet to tap, jazz, modern and lyrical dance.

“We give each class and each different style a character,” Sedona Dance Academy founder Jessica Phillips said. “There’s the Mischievous Mice and the Mouse Queen — modern, and then there’s the angels that help transition from the first act to the second act.”

“Exciting new add-ons to this production are we have a Sugar Plum Fairy, that’s the main role in ‘The Nutcracker’ at the end of the second act,” Phillips said. “She is performed by [Eastlyn Jensen], a professional ballerina and guest artist from Ballet Arizona. That’s exciting, [to] have a professional that’s going to be there to inspire the children. Then we have Deborah Heron Williams, a local music teacher, she’s been a teacher in this area for many years. She is guest performing as Mother Ginger, so she’s going to be on stilts, and kids are going to pop out from under her dress. There are more fun surprises.”

The standouts from last year’s production included Phoebe Jones in the role of Clara, Phillips explained. “[The] kids showed up with confidence and they held their own on stage. Especially our Clara last year, she had such a great presence,” Phillips said. “It was her first time, she was 10 at the time, and she’s just really blossomed since then. That really stood out to me. But the group as a whole really stepped up and I was proud of them.”

“All the girls that are dancing on their toes are extremely technical and difficult. Some of our students will be doing that pointe work,” Phillips said. “Some people are being lifted like above their head, and these are children lifting children. It’s really impressive.”

The production typically draws around 300 residents and has become a holiday tradition.

“It really sweet to see such a big gathering to bring people together over the holidays for these kids,” Phillips said. “It’s performed and put on by all local students and residents. And it’s a really fun thing to do with your family over the holiday, and make it a tradition.”

Source: Sedona Red Rock News