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Clara welcomes her guests on tiptoes

'The Nutcracker' steps off in Angels Camp

  • 2 min to read

The party at the Stahlbaum home is this weekend.

Studio 4 Dance Theater presents its 11th annual production of “The Nutcracker” Ballet, with shows planned for Dec. 19-21 at the Bret Harte Theater in Angels Camp. The nonprofit dance troupe based in Vallecito presents an entirely new production each year, cast with area children and adults telling the story of Christmas Eve magic at the Stahlbaum home in Germany.

Artistic Director Tammie Lee has added some “exciting new features” to this year’s production, says a release.

“We are introducing new characters, beautiful costumes, fun props and exciting special effects,” Lee said. “It’s very thrilling for the audience to keep the show fresh and evolving. Angels will open our second act; I’m excited about the new changes and think our audiences will love them!”

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A Chinese dragon adds to the colorful characters and scenes in the 2019 production of “The Nutcracker” Ballet, staged by the Studio 4 Dance Theater.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” is the holiday tale of Clara’s dreamlike adventures with a Nutcracker Prince. A troupe of 64 performers has rehearsed on weekends since August to perfect the enchanting ballet.

Each year, new principal dancers are initiated into the roles of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince, the Drew Drop Fairy, the Mouse Queen, the Snow Queen, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier.

Briar Gibson dances Clara this year, making her way through scenes with the Nutcracker Prince, danced by Rocky Harwood.

“It takes a great amount of dedication, time and perseverance to earn one of these roles,” Gibson and Harwood agreed.

Other dancers are equally thrilled to step into popular roles.

“Growing up in the dance studio, I would dream of the time I would dance a principal role,” said Madison Gonzalez, who is the Drew Drop Fairy this year.

Iris Stafford plays the mischievous Mouse Queen, and said that earning the role has pushed her to better herself.

“Getting the Mouse Queen role is an absolute honor,” she said. “It has taken a lot of hard work and confidence to get where I am now.”

“I was delighted to be cast as the Cavalier,” said Judah Harwood. “It means so much to me.”

“I’ve loved every moment of transforming into the Snow Queen,” said Taylor Wilson. “I’ve wanted to be Snow Queen ever since I was little.”

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“Obtaining the role of Sugar Plum Fairy has been an achievement that I have worked towards for so long,” said Jillian Buteau, who has been part of Studio 4 Dance Theater for a decade. “Every year, ‘The Nutcracker’ is a new experience; however, this year is special because it is my final year. Being a role model to the younger dancers is far more important to me than my role in the show. I enjoy being a part of ‘The Nutcracker’ family and encouraging young dancers.”

A chorus of the performers said they appreciate how Lee guides them through the long rehearsals that lead to such a fantastical performance.

“Tammie Lee has always been so loving and encouraging; she always pushes us to be the best we can be.”

“The Nutcracker” is appropriate for all ages, the troupe says, and the performances are about two hours long, complete with intermissions during which guests may purchase treats, warm beverages and tickets for drawings for an assortment of 25 baskets and door prizes.

Performances are at 6 p.m. Dec. 19 and Dec. 20 and 1 and 6 p.m. Dec. 21 at the theater at 323 Main St. (Highway 49), Angels Camp. There is a “Meet and Greet” for photos with the Sugar Plum Fairy and other principal dancers immediately following Saturday’s matinee performance.

Tickets are $9 to $22 at studio4dancetheater.com, and reservations are strongly recommended because the performances sell out. If tickets are still available, the box office opens an hour before each show.

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