’Tis the season for snowflakes and sugar plums.
The 15th Annual Nutcracker Gala takes place this weekend at the Performing Arts Center and just might be the perfect way to start the holiday month. With dancers from the Martha’s Vineyard School of Ballet and the Atlantic Coast Academy of Dance as your guides, visit the Land of Sweets and be swept away by the dancing Spanish chocolate and Arabian coffee. Young talent sparkles during the Chinese tea dance and the dance of the Polichinelles, while professional dancers shine in the Sugar Plum Fairy’s pas de deux and the battle of the Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Pay close attention to the opening party scene; you may spot a neighbor or friend dressed in their Victorian finest.
This is artistic director Beth Vages’ 27th year putting on Tchaikovsky’s ballet, and her excitement of preparing the show has not diminished over time.
“I love it,” Ms. Vages said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way . . . for me, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.”
Thirty youngsters share the stage with 18 professional dancers from companies around the country. Megan Mendez of Vineyard Haven and Alexis Condon of Edgartown, both sixth graders, will both play the role of Clara, with Megan dancing during Saturday’s evening performance and Alexis taking the stage for the Sunday matinee.
“We try to split [the role] as much as possible,” Ms. Vages said.
Clara’s pesky little brother, Fritz, will be played Landon Cormie of Vineyard Haven, and the role of the tiny baby mouse will be played by Charlotte Sebastian of West Tisbury.
The dancers began rehearsing for the show only three weeks ago.
“Because the kids are taking ballet classes year round, we don’t actually start the variations [until November,]” Ms. Vages said.
Laura Kay Young, who has worked with the National Ballet and the Alabama Ballet, dances the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy, with Colby Vincent, a principal dancer from Atlantic Coast, as her Cavalier. Ralph Jacques, currently with North Atlanta Dance and formerly of Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Atlanta Ballet, dances as the Snow King.
“Basically, this performance is no different than any large metropolitan performance,” Ms. Vages said. “It has all the bells and whistles.”
“The Christmas tree gets more magical every year,” she said.
Weekend shows for the 15th Annual Nutcracker Gala takes place at the Performing Arts Center will be on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 for priority seating and $15 for general admission; Tickets can be purchased in advance from ticketsmv.com or at the door on performance day.