Nothing warms the spirit like holiday cheer, and there will be plenty of that in the Ballet Slipper production of “The Nutcracker.” Three performances will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16 at Oak Harbor High School.
Enjoy the magic of the traditional holiday story as the Nutcracker comes to life to help Clara battle the Rat King and his minions. The audience will be swept away as local performers dance through enchanted lands of snowflakes and fairies.
This year, Clara will be danced by 10-year-old Alyssa McLeod. This is her third year dancing at the Ballet Slipper and she danced the parts of a soldier and a little girl in last year’s “Nutcracker.”
“Now she’s moved way up,” said Diane Geragotelis, the Ballet Slipper’s mistress of dance. “She’s improved so much over the year. It’s really remarkable how much she’s improved. Truly, she’s just the sweetest kid, really remarkable.”
“I love the music. It reminds me of Christmas,” McLeod said of “The Nutcracker.” “I love being in many of the dance scenes, but I also love that as Clara, I have to act as well.”
After the hard work McLeod and the other dancers put into the production, she said she hopes the community will attend.
“I want them to feel excited about the holidays and to gain an appreciation for ballet … As an entire cast, we work really hard to learn our parts. We’re learning them for our audience. We want them to come and enjoy our performance,” McLeod said. “Ballet takes dedication. I love it and so do my fellow dancers.”
Making the magic happen
Geragotelis has been busy making costumes and leading rehearsals for the 29 ballet students and five volunteer men.
“It’s coming along. I’m in full swing with making costumes again,” Geragotelis said. She’s made 40 costumes so far and is using some costumes from last year, but thanks to growth spurts and adding dancers to scenes, it’s still a lot of work, Geragotelis said. For larger dance studios, girls have to fit height requirements so that costumes can be reused.
“But when you’ve got a small dance studio, you’ve got all different sizes of girls because I want to offer dance to all girls,” Geragotelis said. “They shouldn’t be denied a part because of their size.”
Another annual hurdle is finding men in the community willing to volunteer to perform.
“To find people to volunteer, I think they’re afraid of exactly what they’re going to have to do,” Geragotelis said. This year, a man from the Navy and an Oak Harbor High School graduate, a teacher and a student volunteered. The fifth volunteer was entirely unexpected.
Geragotelis’ 23-year-old daughter Jacey, also a dancer, works at Microsoft. When she spoke to a co-worker, Kyle Williams, about her love of dancing, he surprised her by saying, “Oh, I dance as well,” Diane Geragotelis said.
Jacey was shocked to discover Williams was trained in ballet and that they’d both spent time in the Western Washington University dance program. He even did a brief audition for Jacey, despite wearing jeans, and was wonderful, Diane Geragotelis said.
“We were so lucky to come across Kyle because he actually is a dancer, as well as working at Microsoft,” Geragotelis said. “It is just a godsend because he does just a fabulous job.”
Williams will dance the part of the Cavalier in “The Nutcracker.”
Community, holiday fun
“We put on an absolutely amazing show and again, you don’t have to travel far to bring your kids the magic of ‘The Nutcracker,’” Geragotelis said, adding that the ticket price is reasonable, meaning the entire family can attend affordably. Tickets for adults cost $15. Tickets for ages 17 and under and 60 and older cost $10.
Geragotelis recommended that families shouldn’t bring infants or toddlers since the production runs about two hours.
Tickets are on sale now at Wind and Tide Bookshop on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor. Tickets are also sold at the door but credit cards are not accepted.
As people who have no family members in the show call Geragotelis to make plans to come, she said it’s wonderful to see this kind of community participation.
“They want to make it a tradition for them to come to our performance … It’s a really terrific thing when the community gets involved,” Geragotelis said. She applied for nonprofit status and hopes that by next year, “The Nutcracker” will be nonprofit, which she said would be “truly wonderful.”
“There’s nothing like the holiday magic of ‘The Nutcracker,’” Geragotelis said.
For more information, call 360-929-5828.