BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN
Four dancing schools pool their talents for the Center for the Arts production of The Nutcracker.
Like old St. Nicholas himself, The Nutcracker fantasy ballet by Expressions, the Dance Company, is back for the holiday season.
With a cast of more than 100 young people and adults in lavish costumes from around the world, the colorful pageant will be at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge at 2 and 7 p.m. on Dec. 13.
"We have four different dancing schools represented in this production," said Linda Tracey, publicist for the production.
Expressions itself was founded and is directed by Gillian Davis, owner of the Center for Dance, Drama, Music and Martial Arts on Ridge Road in Port Richey and choreographer of the upcoming production of The Nutcracker.
The Nutcracker is the story of a young girl named Clara who is given a wooden nutcracker shaped like a toy soldier for Christmas. Her jealous brother Fritz breaks the toy, but it is repaired by Clara's gruff Great Uncle Drosselmeier.
After everyone in the household is asleep, Clara tiptoes back downstairs to play with the nutcracker. She encounters the menacing Rat King and his minions, who do battle with the toy soldiers. From there, Clara is transported to a beautiful Fairy Land by Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Greeting her are a plethora of lovely dancers and entertainers - angels, cooks and maids, sleigh drivers, gift bearers and heralds.
The gifts include chocolates, coffee, tea, candy canes, all given by dancers in costumes from Spain, China and the Arab countries.
A highlight is a larger-than-life figure, Mother Ginger, whose Polichinelles and Petits Polichinelles swarm out of her giant hoop skirt to dance and cavort about the stage.
Dancing the role of Clara is Amanda Haystrand, a student at River Ridge Middle School.
Returning for the third year to dance Sugar Plum Fairy is professional dancer Deborah Buttner, who trained at the London Studio Center and owns her own ballet school in Fort Lauderdale.
Also returning is Columbian dancer Eriberto Jimenez, who plays Sugar Plum's Cavalier. Jimenez is principal guest artist for different ballet companies and principal dancer for the Miami Hispanic Ballet.
Dancing the Nutcracker Prince is guest artist Andrew Guilfoil, who began his classical ballet studies with Alexander Bennett, former principal dancer for the Royal Ballet. Guilfoil owns a dance studio in Clearwater.
Natasha Gallick, who teaches ballet, jazz and tap at the Center for Dance, Drama, Music and Martial Arts, plays the role of Mrs. Von Stahlbaum.At a glance
WHAT: The Nutcracker, a ballet
WHERE: Center for the Arts at River Ridge, Town Center Road, New Port Richey
WHEN: 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 13
TICKETS: $15. Call (727) 842-8175