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Traditional ballet gets a jazzy, modern twist

Sally Roberts
sroberts@nevadaappeal.com
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The Nutcracker Ballet receives a generous dose of modern energy and flash in the danceSpirit Performing Arts production of “The Nutcracker Ballet – All Jazz’d Up!”

Show times are 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at the Carson City Community Center, 851 E William St.

This is the 11th year of danceSpirit’s jazz’d up holiday productions, and each year is unique. The story sometimes changes – danceSpirit has jazzed up other classic Christmas tales including Scrooge and “The Christmas Angel” – or the same story changes.

“Every year it’s different,” said Darin Tedford, president of danceSpirit. “There’s always something different in choreography, there are different dancers in all the different roles.”

In “The Nutcracker Ballet – All Jazz’d Up!” the classic story of the Nutcracker is there including the party, the battle with the mice and the magical journey through the land of the sweets.

“We have a Nutcracker that’s different than all the other Nutcrackers that out there,” Tedford said.

Changes include Uncle Drosselmeyer, in a gold-sequined suit and top hat, played by Carson City Chiropractor Bill Bray. Playing an athletic Nutcracker who can land back handsprings, front aerials and turn like a top is Bryce Hartley. The beautiful Clara is played by Kelly Canfield.

“I think the appeal (of the jazz’d up version) is that it’s the same story, but not the classic tale of all the other ballets,” Tedford said. “There’s something for everyone – jazz, tap, ballet, exotics like fire spinning, and black light; there’s a very energetic battle scene between the mice and the Nutcracker.”

The choreographers are Sandi Scheer, the artistic director who brought the jazz’d up concept to danceSpirit 11 years ago, along with Staci Dunlap, Amy Helmers and Jane Eubanks. Each year starting in August, the team of choreographers decide who’s going to do what scenes and “they take their parts and away we go,” Tedford said.

The 2010 production includes new costumes, new gifts for Clara and high-tech lighting and special effects.

Gifts include the “gift of spirits.” With the girls costumed in white and men entirely in black and lit by black lights, the girls appear to float.

“The Nutcracker Ballet – All Jazz’d Up!” is a family show. The production has 45 cast members from 3 years old to about 60 and includes seven dads, brothers and older men, plus a couple moms of members of the cast.

With the support of the community, donors and grants, families can enjoy a night out without breaking the bank. Tickets are $10 for all seats, with no hidden costs. Tickets can be purchased at the door or call danceSpirit at 884-1066 to reserve the best seats.