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Ballet Slipper dances its way through 'The Nutcracker'

Hannah Lampe, 9, right, helps her fellow ballerina, Mackenzie Kuykendall, 8, adjust the head of her mouse costume during a dress rehearsal of “The Nutcracker” performed by The Ballet Slipper on Friday. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Hannah Lampe, 9, right, helps her fellow ballerina, Mackenzie Kuykendall, 8, adjust the head of her mouse costume during a dress rehearsal of “The Nutcracker” performed by The Ballet Slipper on Friday.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Diane Geragotelis’ dancers piled into The Ballet Slipper Friday night to get in one last studio rehearsal before taking the stage. They sat on the floor chatting excitedly as they alternated between taping up their knees, fixing their buns and kicking their stretched out legs toward the ceiling. Wrapped presents, wine glasses and racks of other props and accessories lined the walls. Tchaikovsky began to softly drum from the speakers, and the scene was set for Clara’s immortal dream to begin.

The Ballet Slipper company’s production of “The Nutcracker” opened in Oak Harbor on Saturday. Students from across the island danced the classic roles. Geragotelis, the choreographer and director, said she worked hard training the kids for their specific parts. On Friday, she sat comfortably in the splits while calling out last minute critiques and compliments to her dancers.

“Don’t hestitate, go big,” she instructed Meiko Parton who’s played the nutcracker and cavalier for the second year in a row.

“You guys are fabulous with your heads,” she praised a group of young girls dressed in mice suits with wobbly, whisker hats. “That was really, really good.”

Geragotelis said she thinks people should come out to see all of the hard work that the dancers have put in. Some of the moves, such as the acrobatic feats and coordinated partner lifts, took hours to perfect.

Eleven-year-old Chelsey Kosbar was given the role of Clara, one of the main characters whose fantastic fantasy of a Nutcracker battle and winter wonderland makes up nearly the entirety of the show. Kosbar has been doing ballet since she was about 7 years old and this marks her second Nutcracker performance with The Ballet Slipper. She said the dancer who played Clara last year inspired her to try for the part.

“When I saw Mara first dance, I wanted to do it because she danced so gracefully,” Kosbar said. “I thought if I danced a lead role, I’d become a better dancer.”

Many of the younger children said they wanted to be in the production simply for the thrill of performing.

Nine-year-old Hannah Lampe plays a little boy in the opening party scene in addition to her role as one of the rat king’s minions during the Nutcracker-solider fight.

“I like the costumes,” Lampe said. “They’re so bright.”

‘Nutcracker’ continues

Performances are scheduled through this weekend. There will be shows on Dec. 17, 18 and 19. Shows will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for seniors and children are $10, general admission is $15. They can be purchased at Bayview Embroidery/ Whidbey Island Gifts located at 890 SE Pioneer Way. Performances are held at Oak Harbor High School.

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