Schools team up for The Nutcracker

BALLET: | Stage West School of Dance, Urban Dance Connection from Campbell River present joint ballet on ADSS Theatre stage.

Young dancers at Stage West School of Performing Arts take a break during a rehearsal for their roles as gingerbread men in the upcoming production of The Nutcracker.

Port Alberni residents can get into the holiday spirit this Saturday, Nov. 28 by attending a classic Christmas ballet. Stage West School of Performing Arts, along with its sister school, Urban Dance Connection in Campbell River, is presenting The Nutcracker with dancers from both studios, on stage at the ADSS Theatre in two performances.

Co-producers Juli Martell from Port Alberni and Jen Soo from Campbell River came up with the idea to put the school together about a year and a half ago. The two met as young competitive dancers and wanted to give their students the opportunity to perform in the well-known production.

“It is hard for one school to take on all the roles so our older girls have been travelling back and forth and the little ones stay in their hometown to train,” Martell said.

“It is hugely ambitious but every great city has The Nutcracker and we’re a great city too, so we wanted to bring a high-calibre ballet to our community.”

Martell has been running Stage West for the past eight years and remembers her formative years dancing in Port Alberni.

“When I was younger it was always exciting to do an actual ballet,” she said.

“We have the year-end show which is always great, but a traditional ballet is a gift. It is a gift that is exciting to give to dancers in a small town.”

The senior dancers at both schools have been rehearsing since the summer and will be taking on the lead roles. Younger students, from the age of six, have been putting the final touches on dances and will take on roles like gingerbread men, party guests and skaters.

“It is a perfect opportunity to give everyone a chance to be onstage and to see how much work it takes to put on a ballet,” Martell said.

“It is about team dynamics and working with another school has been a blessing. We usually only see each other at competitions and dance has never been about competition to me. We are working together as a team to accomplish something.”

The production is also being put on at no cost to parents of the dancers with the help of ticket sales.

Martell hopes this is the first of many community performances.

“We have big plans to do something every year and we want to involve other community groups, charities and choirs,” she said.

“We want other groups to be a part of it because it is not just about the school, it is about Port Alberni.”

The performance takes place at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28 at ADSS. Tickets are available at Stage West, 4653 Margaret St. and Funk Trunk, 4920 Cherry Creek Rd