Dance Kids of Monterey County is celebrating more than 20 years of Nutcracker onstage! From the humble beginnings in a 100 seat theatre, we have come to call the glorious Sunset Center home.

Our team has been with us for many years.  Set designer Nicole Bryant-Stephans, stage manager and assistant stage manager, Carol Heiland Rosa and Trish Hatfield, lighting designer Melissa DeGiere and our beloved costume designer, Joanne Phelps, create a strong base of talent and energy needed to produce quality ballet year after year.

Hundreds of volunteer hours are required to produce this yearly holiday extravaganza.  The elegant gala and silent auction kicks off the celebratory weekend and is followed by an exceptional Sugar Plum Fairy Tea on Sunday before the matinee. Kudos to the chairwomen and their tireless committees, dedicated to excellence.  The classic tradition of Nutcracker is supported by incredible moms and dads, friends of Dance Kids and a strong board of directors leading the charge.

From the grace and beauty of the pre professional dancers to the youngest four year old, the cast becomes a family with the older students lending a hand to the “littles”, helping each other into the complex tutus and reviewing choreography to assure as close to perfection as possible.

It has been our joy to see the excitement on the faces of the children before the curtain rises each year.

Dance Kids Cascan Nueces project, a Latino version of the traditional European Nutcracker, is in its fourth year of touring. Nine mariachi musicians perform Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece re written by Salinas born, Jalisco harpist, William Faulkner, including the four divertissement from the second act and the much loved Sugar Plum Fairy solo. Folkloric dancers perform four traditional, and very different, dance styles from four different Mexican states. The Sugar Plum Fairy solo is performed by a Dance Kids ballerina in a traditional tutu, continuing the process of bridging the cultures and creating growth and understanding with the art of dance connecting diversity.

Each summer Dance Kids collaborates with the nationally recognized program, UpWard Bound. Upward Bound provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in their precollege performance and ultimately in their higher education pursuits. Upward Bound serves: high school students from low-income families; and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.  This program is housed at CSUMB.

Without the support of the Monterey Peninsula community, Dance Kids would not be able to continue its valuable programming bringing dance and the arts to the children of Monterey County.  We need your help!  Please donate today on this website.

With continued passion and love of the arts,

Alan and Carol Richmond

Susan Breen (right), VP of Programs for Arts Council of Monterey County, presents Dance Kids of Monterey County with a very welcomed grant! Robin McKee (Advancement) & Scott Julian (Board Member) were honored to receive the grant which will help support our programs, particularly Cascanueces: A Latino Nutcracker. Thank you to the Arts Council for excellence in arts advocacy and support!

Susan Breen (right), VP of Programs for Arts Council of Monterey County, presents Dance Kids of Monterey County with a very welcomed grant! Robin McKee (Advancement) & Scott Julian (Board Member) were honored to receive the grant which will help support our programs, particularly Cascanueces: A Latino Nutcracker. Thank you to the Arts Council for excellence in arts advocacy and support!

We are pleased to announce that Dance Kids has recently been awarded a generous grant from the Yellow Brick Road in Carmel to support our work. This gift is a big tribute to our fine programs!

Over its 25 years, the Yellow Brick Road Benefit Shops have donated more than $5 million to Monterey County nonprofits. To help continue this philanthropy, they need more volunteers. Please call (831) 626-8480 or visit

Dance Kids’ Outreach to the Community Continues

Dance Kids collaborates throughout the year with Community Partnership for Youth and the National organization UpWard Bound. These two agencies touch the lives of underserved youth in our community, the Salinas Valley and the entire South Monterey County. Dance Kids provides funding for dance and music teachers, working with the highly esteemed program Guitars Not Guns. At the core of the Dance Kids mission statement:

Dance Kids of Monterey County was created to provide ongoing performance opportunities in dance the theater arts to the youth of Monterey County. Our mission is to strengthen character and positively influence children’s lives through the performing arts.

We invite you to like us on Facebook and follow the beautiful photos of the dancers and programming of the Dance Kids of Monterey County in the next months to come!

Joaquin Escamilla, Dance Kids of Monterey County dance instructor, shares his video of the first day of class with his Upward Bound students. Joaquin, a former teacher at the “Edge” in Los Angeles, a sought-after judge for competitive dance tours and world-known teacher, shares his view of the students and their experience at the CSUMB campus last week: “This day has been stored in the happy place in my heart. Teaching this group reminded me of my teachers and mentors in the past. It is an honor to be in the classroom with these students and share the knowledge of the art form I love! I am now the mentor. Showing human beings that you need to believe in yourself and let yourself be loved. Amazing. At the end of the class, one student said: “this is the most fun I had ever.”

Thank you to Cesar Tlilcoatl Velazquez, Director of the nationally known program Upward Bound, and his terrific staff for our five-year collaboration!

The celebration for the Fouth of July coincided with the opening of the Salvador Dali Museum, Stanton Center, Monterey California, on a cheery note. Dance Kids dancers were invited to perform in the parade by the Dali Museum and our own super terrific choreographer, Ashley Rutherford, made magic. Dance Kids dancers Olivia Wagner, Natalia Chambers, Jessica Wheeler and CAPA alumni choreographer Haley Rutherford joined our colleagues from Pacific Arts Complex in Santa Cruz, Kirbie, Alexis and Rileigh to welcome the opening of the new Dali Museum and celebrate the 4th. The Stanton Center is the permanent home to the second largest collections of Salvador Dali art in North America.

Our dancers were asked to join the festivities and were given a private tour of the museum and enjoyed lunch surrounded by his work. Congratulations and great work to our dancers and our friends from Santa Cruz!


Arletta Anderson, Carmel High School graduate and Dance Kids alumnus, received her degree in dance from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Upon graduating, she worked with various choreographers including Holly Johnston/Ledges and Bones, Kevin Williamson, Kate Hutter/LACDC, Kindra Windish and Rebecca Pappas/Pappas and Dancers.

Arletta spent three years in New York where she danced with Esme Boyce, Molly Heller and was a part of Willi Dorner’s Bodies in Urban Spaces project. Since relocating to the Bay Area in summer 2013, Arletta has had the opportunity to work with GERALDCASELDANCE, as a member of his company. Choreographer Gerald Casel is a current artist-in-residence at ODC in SF and faculty at UC Santa Cruz.

She offers her experiences as a resource to any young dancer looking for support.

“I often think about how we are a collection of all of our previous experiences and interactions as this feels particularly present in my recent dance practices. So much of that began at (what is now) CAPA and Dance Kids, and in your presence. So, thank you for helping to lay the foundation on which I am continuing to build and uncover. It has, in so many ways, shaped who and how and why I am now.”

Civilizations are not remembered by their business people, their bankers or lawyers. They’re remembered by the arts.

The quote was made by an American entrepreneur Eli Broad after founding not one but two Fortune 500 companies. Co-founder of the colossal building empire Kaufman and Broad, he and his wife Edythe have committed their fortune in gifting programs benefitting the youth of America.

Dance Kids of Monterey County believes in the youth of Monterey County and supports programming for traditional ballet as well as culturally diverse learning.

Two years ago a concept to present a Latino Nutcracker was developed. Dance Kids is proud to have this VERY UNIQUE FREE program ready for a venue debut! Our Big Idea will present our bilingual Latino Nutcracker titled Cascanueces at Sherwood Hall, Salinas. The program is an interpretation of the traditional holiday favorite, with Tchaikovsky’s music re written by Jalisco harpist, William Faulker and performed by a nine piece live mariachi band. Traditional folkloric dancers perform with the Sugar Plum Fairy telling the age old fairy tale with a new twist.

Dance Kids is proud to be the recipient of funds through Monterey County Gives!  Thank you to all of our friends that donated to Dance Kids programming.


Contact Us

Street Address:
Sunset Center, Cottage #17
San Carlos Street at 10th Ave.,
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 6225
Carmel, CA 93921

Phone: (831) 622-9008
Fax: (831) 218-1293

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