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'Nutcracker' Combines Young Dancers With Professionals

December 05, 2018 05:52 PM

(ABC 6 News) - This weekend, the Rochester Dance Company will perform Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" for the 17th year.

"This is the biggest cast we've had since I've been doing the show, and I've been directing for seven years," said the show's artistic director, Ted Sothern. "We have a full cast, from ages 6-18, plus professionals and we even have adults in the show."

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That includes almost 60 of those young dancers who have put in hours of practice very week over the last four months.

"We start in September, and we have a week in August where we practice every day, all day; Saturdays and some Friday evenings," said Margaret Fitz, one of the young dancers.

"Every year I tailor each dance to the group I have," Sothern said. "We hire three people to play the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier and the Nutcracker."

There's a local connection among those professionals, too.

"The Nutcracker grew up in Rochester and went to the University of Minnesota, majored in dance, and he's back again," Sothern said. "So he grew up as a kid doing 'The Nutcracker,' and now he's back to do the performance."

"I learned a lot from the older dancers and the professionals, too," said 13-year-old Olivia Oliver.

"Every year we get to watch them and learn from them," said Sydney Lichty, who dances as the Mouse Queen. "It's just really inspiring to learn from someone who has gone through all the practice we've gone through and has made it."

"They're always there, just watching, and they can give us pointers of how to make it a better dance, and how to clean things up, and it really goes a long way," said Maddy Welch, who dances as the Dew Drop Fairy.

All of those young dancers harness those hours of work and coaching to bring the magic of Christmas to Rochester.

"The Nutcracker" takes center stage at the Mayo Civic Center Saturday at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $18 to $22.

There's also a privately funded show for people of all abilities, and their caretakers, taking place Thursday at 6 p.m. Tickets for that show are little to no cost. For more information and ticket sales, contact the Mayo Civic Center.

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Elise Romas

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