Westport’s Academy of Dance Performs 28th Annual Nutcracker

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Julie Lunde ’11 practices at a rehearsal for her part as the Sugarplum Fairy | Photo by Julia Edelman ’11

Dana Rappaport ’11
Web Opinions Editor   

Julie Lunde '11 practices at a rehearsal for her part as the Sugarplum Fairy | Photo by Julia Edelman '11
Julie Lunde '11 and a professional dancer practice a lift during rehearsal for her part as the Sugarplum Fairy | Photo Contributed by Julia Edelman '11

One week ago, Dec. 5 and 6, Westport’s Academy of Dance closed the curtain on their twenty-eighth annual production of The Nutcracker.          

At the start of the holiday season, the story of Clara and her Nutcracker prince unfolded on the Staples’ High School stage during three performances.          

The Academy dancers, spanning from the ages of six to 17, participated in a graceful and entertaining rendition of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Ballet with the choreography from the Academy’s original production 28 years ago.

The youngest dancers were cast as angels in Act I and sheep for the dance of the reed-flutes divertissement in Act II. Too young to be awarded complex choreography, the girls were able to shuffle back and forth on relevé (a ballet term for on one’s tip-toes) and skip around the stage, all the while they wave to their parents in the audience.

The Academy’s choice of putting girls too young to dance in the show was by no means problemmatic. The recognizable young dancers of the community added an adorable sense of familiarity to the show, one that would not exist in a professional production.   

In contrast, the oldest dancers brought an impressive range of eclectic dancing techniques and maturity to the show, least expected from a local dance studio. The teen dancers were able to master complicated moves used by many professional ballet companies.

“You could really tell the audience loved it” said Julia Edelman ‘11 the lead shepherdess and a lead snowflake.       

These experienced dancers start their training for the show in the middle of Aug. up until the beginning of Sept. in a program called Nutcracker Warm-Ups. After auditions the girls’ prepare for their parts during weekdays and weekends through the final rehearsals in early Dec.

“We put a lot of hard work and effort into the performance and we are all very happy with the results” said Grace Osgood ‘11 who was cast as a lead snowflake and the lead Russian dancer.

Due to the shortage of male dancers at the Academy hired professional primer danseurs (or male ballet dancers) for the production. These dancers put on high quality performances. However, they were upstaged by the amazing performances by their Academy partners, including Staples’ students such as Osgood and Julie Lunde ‘11, the Sugarplum Fairy.

Other Staples’ students who participated in the show were Elena Adams ‘12, Grace Bergonzi ‘13, Molly Collins ‘12, Danielle Frost ‘13, Christianna Giaume ‘12, Jill Rappaport ‘13, and Martha Whamond ‘13.

Westport’s Academy of Dance will continue its tradition in performing The Nutcracker as well as captivating its audience year after year.