2019 Prairie Dance Alliance version of the holiday classic features some familiar faces
By Per Peterson
Everyone’s favorite holiday classic, “The Nutcracker,” is returning to the Schwan Community Center for the Performing Arts at the Marshall High School.
This year, there will be three Prairie Dance Alliance performances of the holiday ballet classic: 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 20, 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21, and 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 22.
This year’s cast is 99 strong, compared to 86 from two years ago.
“The cast is huge this year,” said Breanna Thompson, one of the show’s choreographers. “We make sure that everyone is included and never turn dancers and actors away. We added new roles to accommodate for the large cast like Icicles and Snow Maidens for the snow scene, Mini Butterflies for the flower dance, Rat Queen and Mouse King Assistants for the battle scene, Arc Angel to the Angel dance. And Clara has a little sister named Rose this year. The last Nutcracker in 2017 we added Butterflies to the flower dance, Snow Bunnies to the snow scene, Gingersnaps, Bakers and Gumdrops to the Mother Ginger dance, Butterfly Queen to the flower dance and more. It is really fun to watch the cast grow as it only makes the show more exciting.”
There traditionally have been four December performances, but it has been scaled back to three this year because the dates are closer to Christmas.
“It will give the cast, the crew, the volunteers a little bit more time with their families at Christmastime,” said Justin Holmgren, president of Prairie Dance Alliance. “We always want to keep “The Nutcracker” around Christmas because it is a Christmas ballet, but this year, the way the weekends fell, it was very close to Christmas.”
Thompson recently opened the Tracy Academy of Dance, and also owns and operates the Marshall Academy of Dance. She is joined by Annie Deutz in her choreographer duties. The pair get together often for two- to three-hour meetings, and are working even harder than usual because of the large number of cast members.
“Annie is a huge part of Marshall Academy of Dance teaching and choreographing,” Thompson said. “We work so well together and love to bounce ideas off of each other. We are a great team when it comes to tackling this big project. This year we still definitely have a lot to plan out with all of the new parts we added, but it is slightly easier for the parts that we are keeping the same,” Thompson said.
Despite feeling a bit overwhelmed right off the bat having so many dancers and actors, Thompson has learned it is a good problem to have.
“After a few weeks everyone gets the hang of it and really embraces learning new things, paying attention to details,” she said. “It is so rewarding to watch the cast improve from week to week. The most rewarding part is by far the performances. Everything really pulls together and the cast is giving the show 100%. That is so fun to experience. By the time it is over I want to do it again.”
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.