’Tis the season for Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet "The Nutcracker," and this weekend the Nevada School of Dance will bring the beloved childhood fantasy to life in true form with Las Vegas’ only full-length professional production featuring an all-youth cast.
Artistic directors Luz Morante and Sergei Popov have been rehearsing with their students more than 15 hours a week since early September to perfect the performance, which runs today and Saturday at Faith Lutheran Performing Arts Center.
“It’s been a lot of sacrifice and lot of hours. These kids are amazing. They have been training like professional adults, willing to make the same changes and put in the same hours at rehearsals,” says Morante, a professional ballet dancer and instructor who has directed “The Nutcracker” in Las Vegas for eight years.
The Nevada School of Dance specializes in classical ballet training based on the rigorous Vaganova Method, with the goal of teaching students the method and lifestyle required of professional dancers.
Morante says this year’s performance of “The Nutcracker” will be one of the most technically formal and complex productions she has directed yet thanks in part to the evolving talent of several of her female students.
“It’s a very classical ‘Nutcracker.’ Teaching the choreography is a little more complicated. More girls are in point shoes this year; they’re more advanced,” she says.
For students Valeria Cruz-Colon, 13, and Flavia Morante, 14, the production marks an unprecedented opportunity to perform one of classical ballet’s most coveted roles as the Sugarplum Fairy, which they will each perform on separate nights.
“To know that real professional dancers have danced this part, it’s exciting, but it adds pressure,” Flavia says. “The most difficult part for me has been handling that pressure; it’s such a big part in the show. But I’ve been encouraged by the teachers and understand that putting the work into it is how you improve.”
Each evening’s performance will feature a "preshow" in the theater’s foyer by young pianists from the music division of Nevada Arts Academy. The school also has invited members of Families for Effective Autism Treatment and Las Vegas’ general autistic community, as well as members of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, to attend a dress rehearsal function Saturday morning free of charge. Those interested in attending the rehearsal can contact the offices of FEAT and Make-a-Wish Foundation for more information.
Today’s performance begins at 7 p.m. and Saturday’s at 6 p.m. To reserve tickets, visit NevadaSchoolofDance.org and click on “The Nutcracker” information tab. Tickets are $15 for children younger than 12 and seniors 60+ and $18 for adults. Group rates of 25+ are available by calling (702) 332-2211. Faith Lutheran Performing Arts Center is located at 2015 S. Hualapai Way, Las Vegas 89117.