High kicks abound as the cast of the Nutcracker rehearse this week.The Red Deer College production of the Nutcracker brings together dancers from around Central Alberta for the holiday classic ballet. A limited number of seats may still be available for the show this weekend by contact the Red Deer College Box office for the Saturday performances at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 1:30 p.m.

New roles added for expanded cast of annual production at RDC

Fluttering birds and butterflies will join dancing snowflakes and sweets in this year’s The Nutcracker ballet.

Fluttering birds and butterflies will join dancing snowflakes and sweets in this year’s The Nutcracker ballet.

Choreographer Tania Strader was surprised — and delighted — when double the number of young dancers signed up to be in the latest Red Deer College production of the Christmas-themed ballet.

It runs today and Sunday at the RDC Arts Centre.

With a cast of 80 dancers instead of 40, Strader had to think of novel ways of fitting more children into the popular annual show.

She came up with new bird, butterfly and flower roles.

These nature-based characters will meet young Clara outside the palace of the Land of Sweets.

“Instead of having the scene take place inside the palace, it will be set in the palace garden,” she said.

The same famous music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky will score the scene, but more brilliantly costumed characters will be on stage at the same time.

Since many of the dancers are very young — Strader said seven of them are age five and under — this presented its own challenges. But the choreographer believes everything is working out just fine.

In fact, with so many cast members of wide-ranging abilities on stage, the audience should be swept away by an even more impressive retelling of the story.

“It look great, there’s more energy, more colours. … There’s a lot to see while watching,” said Strader, who added “it’s going to be amazing, I think.”

This year’s plot sticks fairly close to the original: The young girl Clara is celebrating Christmas Eve at home with her family when her Uncle Drosselmier arrives with a Nutcracker doll that immediately captures her imagination.

That evening, after everyone has gone to bed, the Nutcracker comes to life and spirits Clara away to a magical land where mice and soldiers battle for victory.

Clara then journeys through dancing snowflakes to reach the Land of Sweets, where she meets such exotic characters as Spanish Chocolates, Arabian Coffee, Chinese Tea, and Russian Candy Canes.

In a small diversion from the original story, this year’s Clara will turn into the Sugar Plum Princess and her Nutcracker doll will transform into a handsome Prince.

“They will be transported back to the palace where they celebrate that the spell is broken,” said Strader.

But soon, Uncle Drosselmier arrives to take Clara back home to reality.

“When she wakes up, there’s some confusion about whether it was a dream or whether it was real, because of some of the things that are left behind,” added Strader.

The shows are at 1:30 and 7 p.m. today and at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $22.25 ($20.25 students/seniors) from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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