Holiday dance classic in a nutshell |

Holiday dance classic in a nutshell

Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Nathan Neben and Linsey Wegener rehearse a scene from the Nutcracker-All Jazzed up at the danceSpirtit performing arts center in Carson City Sat.

Students at Fremont Elementary School watched the nutshell version of the holiday classic “The Nutcracker” ballet Wednesday.

“I thought the performance was awesome,” said 10-year-old Richard Pendergast. “All those dancers – I could never do that. I’ve never seen that before.”

That’s the reaction Rosine Bena was looking for when she created “The Peanutcracker – The Story in a Nutshell,” a 45-minute mini-version of “The Nutcracker.”

“It’s shorter so you don’t lose their interest, and it’s narrated so they can understand what’s going on,” she said. “It’s a good one for parents to bring their children to for their first ballet.”

Bena starred professionally as the Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker” ballet for 25 years.

During that time, she noticed several young children in the audience. When families would come backstage for autographs after the performance, she learned it was many children’s first exposure to ballet.

“Some of them didn’t understand the story,” Bena explained. “And it was just too long.”

She presented the ballet in the Bay area from 1993 to 2000, when she moved permanently to Nevada. Now, she presents it with the Sierra Nevada Ballet.

“I like it a lot better because the normal ‘Nutcracker’ gets a little long,” said Meredith Adler, a 14-year-old Carson High School student who dances in the production.

Fremont Elementary School students sat “crisscross-applesauce, bottoms on the floor” to watch the ballet during a schoolwide assembly.

Students laughed out loud when the Nutcracker entered with a giant papier-mache head, and audible “Aahs!” filled the cafeteria when he leaped into the air.

Mariah Hartley, 9, admired the skill and grace of the dancers.

“I used to be in ballet so it reminds me of my past,” she said. “You have to practice a lot so you can be proud of what you do and entertain a lot of people.”

The company will also perform the ballet at 2 p.m. Saturday on the lawn of the legislature as part of Carson City’s “Holiday in the Capital.”

If You Go

What: ‘The Peanutcracker – The Story in a Nutshell’ dance performance

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Capitol Complex lawn, between the Capitol and the Legislative Building on Carson Street.

Contact Teri Vance at or at 881-1272.