Students at Stage West School of Performing Arts in Port Alberni prepare for the return of The Nutcracker on Dec. 4. Students are required to wear masks in the studio, but will be unmasked when dancing. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Students at Stage West School of Performing Arts in Port Alberni prepare for the return of The Nutcracker on Dec. 4. Students are required to wear masks in the studio, but will be unmasked when dancing. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Port Alberni dancers bring back The Nutcracker for 2021

Dancers at Stage West School of Performing Arts excited to perform for live audience

Port Alberni dancers will be taking the stage after a long break as they bring the classic winter tale of The Nutcracker to life.

Dancers at Stage West School of Performing Arts in Port Alberni have been rehearsing for the past few months in preparation for this year’s production of The Nutcracker, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Alberni District Secondary School Theatre.

“This is the first time we’ll be performing for a live audience since COVID,” said Jen Soo, the owner of Stage West.

Throughout the pandemic, Stage West kept up classes for young dancers, although they were sometimes limited to virtual classrooms. Last year’s Nutcracker performance had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. But with the recent provincial announcement that indoor events are back to full capacity, the show will be going forward for 2022. Rehearsals for the show started back in July.

“The kids have really missed performing and competing,” said Soo. “This is an exciting time for us to be getting back on stage.”

The Nutcracker is a classical ballet that tells the story of Clara, a young girl whose nutcracker comes to life on Christmas Eve and wages a battle against the evil Rat King.

This year will be the sixth production of The Nutcracker put on by River-Port Danceworks, which includes Studio North Dance Academy in Campbell River and Stage West in Port Alberni. The cast is made up of students from both Port Alberni and Campbell River, as well as two guest performers. Professional dancers Marsha Kwan and Giovanni Giordano will be reprising their roles as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker Prince, respectively.

This year, Kwan and Giordano have been “way more involved” in choreography, said Soo.

“The kids have been able to work with them all the way through rehearsals,” she added.

The rest of the cast will be made up of students from River-Port Danceworks. Two Port Alberni students, Emma Fines and Madeline Joseph, have been involved in The Nutcracker since it started seven years ago. This will be their final performance, as they are both graduating in 2022.

“It’s pretty special for them,” said Soo.

For those who have seen The Nutcracker before, Soo says there are a few changes this year.

“We always switch up the cast and storyline to keep things fresh,” said Soo. “There are some new characters and some surprises. All the choreography is new this year.”

The show is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4 in Port Alberni at the ADSS Theatre at 7 p.m. There will also be a show in Campbell River on Dec. 11.

Tickets for the Port Alberni show are $25 each and are available at the Funk Trunk (4920 Cherry Creek Road). Vaccine passports and valid ID will be required to get into the theatre.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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