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'Nutcracker' to be performed at 3 venues

Tschaikovsky's perennially popular ballet will be staged by Expressions under the direction and choreography Gillian Davis for the sixth year. Many dancers will be local children who are dance students.

© St. Petersburg Times
published December 6, 2002

More than 100 young dancers and several adults in lavish costumes will perform the holiday favorite, The Nutcracker ballet, at three different venues on Dec. 13, 14 and 15.

"We've been practicing every Saturday since Sept. 7," said Expressions founder and show choreographer/director Gillian Davis. "The children have missed birthday parties, field trips and all kinds of other things to work on this show."

This is the sixth year Expressions has produced the ballet.

Danced to excerpts from Tschaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, the ballet tells the story of young Clara (alternately played by Chesiree Balogh and Danielle Taylor) and her family at holiday time.

On Christmas, Clara's uncle gives her a toy nutcracker, which her naughty brother Fritz (Lucas Omar) breaks. That night, Clara dreams that the Nutcracker (Andrew Guilfoil) does battle with a menacing Rat King (Robyn Smith). After the battle, the Dewdrop Fairy (Lindsay Gruzlewski) lifts everyone's spirits when she dances with the Nutcracker Prince.

Then the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy escorts Clara and her Prince to Fairy Land.

There, Clara and the prince see dances by angels and meet 21 cooks and maids, more sleigh drivers, gift bearers and heralds.

The gifts include chocolates from Spanish dancers, coffee from Arabian dancers, tea from Chinese dancers and dances by Candy Canes, Mirlitons and Marzipan, all in colorful costumes.

A highlight is tall Mother Ginger and her Polichinelles and Petits Polichinelles, who swarm from underneath her huge hoop skirt to dance and play.

Finally come the ethereal dancers in white who perform The Waltz of the Flowers. Featured dancers in that sequence are Lindsay Gruzlewski, Joslyn Frazee, Robyn Smith and Kimberly Kerrigan.

Professional dancer Deborah Buttner returns for a second year in the featured role of Sugar Plum Fairy. Ms. Buttner trained at the London Studio Center and studied and danced with the Magda Aunon School of Classical Ballet, Dance Arts School, Fort Lauderdale Ballet Classique and the Carol Colbert School of Dance. She owns her own ballet school in Fort Lauderdale.

Her Cavalier will be performed by Eriberto Jimenez, a native of Bogota, Colombia, who was trained at Ballet Concerto, New Century Ballet, Ballet Theatre of Miami and the Joffery Ballet School. He is now principal guest artist for several ballet companies and principal dancer for the Miami Hispanic Ballet.

Gilfoil, the Nutcracker Prince, studied classical ballet with Alexander Bennett, former principal dancer for the Royal Ballet. Gilfoil has performed and taught dance nationally and internationally. He teaches at Rhythm Works Dance Studio in Clearwater.

Natasha Gallick, a Port Richey Dance Time instructor, will play the role of Mrs. Von Stahlbaum, Clara's mother. Born in Australia, Ms. Gallick performed at the Sydney Opera House and has performed cabaret-style shows in Europe and the Bahamas. She was a member of a dance/circus show in Korea.

The show is about two hours long, including intermission, and is appealing to all ages.

At a glance

WHAT: The Nutcracker ballet

WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at Wesley Chapel High School off Curley Road in South Pasco; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at Center for the Arts at River Ridge, Town Center Road, New Port Richey; 2 p.m. Dec. 15 at Hernando High School, off Howell Avenue in Brooksville.

TICKETS: $12; groups of 10 or more, $9.50. Call (727) 842-8175 between noon and 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Credit cards accepted.

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