During the holiday season, and for four months before opening night, Dance Kids of Monterey County and the Monterey County Pops! is immersed in activities surrounding all things ‘Nutcracker; A Monterey Peninsula Tradition’. All 100 on stage dancers and actors, 39 musicians and a maestro, 10 professional stagehands and technicians and over 60 volunteers join forces to make each performance magical. Our traditional Friday morning performance entertaining 700 underserved children, is our gift to the community. Adults and children of all ages from the Monterey Peninsula and beyond enjoy the beauty of the Sunset Center and the opportunity to be captivated by the lure of Tchaikovsky’s music, performed by Monterey County Pops!, Andrea Paris Gutiérrez’s choreography, Joanne Phelps sumptuous costumes, and Nicole Bryant-Stephens magical sets. The age old story of ‘Nutcracker’ adapted to our own historic Monterey Peninsula demands a full-scale production complete with a full orchestra.
The elaborate stage elements and intricate lighting unleash the viewers’ imagination by providing visual effects that are quite exciting. The Christmas tree that grows with Clara’s wish, the magical appearance of the Nutcracker Prince, the comic figure of Mother Ginger; the costume requires handling by three people once the actor is seated six feet above the stage floor — as well as the continuous flutter of the purest snowflakes which are swept up and conserved after each performance for reuse.
While these technical achievements are wonderful and fun, it is the beauty of the choreography and the technical excellence of our pre-professional dancers that sustains the ballet through two acts. Act I introduces the characters — the Stahlbaum children, Clara and Fritz, Herr Drosselmeyer and his extraordinary magic, John Steinbeck, Salvador Dali, Louis Armstrong; all guests of the legendary owner of the setting of our first act, the Del Monte Hotel, Sam Morse — and also begins the transition from reality into fantasy with the concluding Snowflake Waltz. Act II offers the complete transformation. We have entered the “Kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy” and there is no turning back.
The popularity of the Dance Kids of Monterey County’s ‘Nutcracker; A Monterey Peninsula Tradition’ is immense and as we celebrate our Silver Anniversary year, it provides an unforgettable spark to everyone’s holiday season.
“Hi I’m Anya Kahn and I’ve been dancing for about 4 years. I love dancing because I get to express my emotions through my movement quality. I am so excited for this year’s Nutcracker because we are going to have a live orchestra and this is the first time it’s ever been done.”
“My name is Audrey Costa and I love Dance Kids.
I started dancing when I was 2 years old so for 11 years now and just love it and I feel like I have grown so much throughout dance and all the people that are around me have helped me become a better me.
This year for the Nutcracker I am looking forward to the live music that will be played for us- it’s an incredible opportunity that most people don’t get to have until they are much older and have much more experience. I love Dance Kids because of all the wonderful instructors and friends that surround me throughout it – they really help me be me.”
“Hi, I’m Devin Ellis and I’ve been dancing for about 12 years. I love dancing because it’s a way I can show my individuality through movement and it’s a form of self-expression.
I’m really excited for the live orchestra because that’s a new thing and I’m excited to perform with a new group of girls and to meet new people through it. My favorite thing about dance is that there is so much variety. You can be taught a dance and every person looks so different- it can really show who you are inside. Every person can portray something differently and it can be a beautiful piece of artwork that wasn’t imagined in the first place.”
“I’m Paloma Kasad – I’ve been dancing for about 8 years.
I love dancing because it helps people show passion through art. It’s really fun especially at CAPA because it’s a really warm and welcoming environment. Yes it’s fun because everyone feels welcome- it’s fun to dance with your friends and have a good time.
I’ve been doing the Nutcracker every year since I was 5 so it’s really fun to see people grow and also how the Nutcracker itself grew, as people in the community know about it- more people come to watch and come to join. I get really excited to learn my part because I get so many opportunities with different parts, and every part is different, so it’s fun.”
“Hi- I’m Ruksheen Kasad. I’ve been dancing with CAPA for about 11 years already. I like dance because it feels free for me- I can step into the studio and see my friends and kind of just like for a little bit when I’m here forget about whatever homework I have or any other troubles I need to worry about when I’m not here- I can just dance and not have to worry about it.
I’m very excited for the Nutcracker this year because this will be my first year auditioning on pointe so I’m excited to see what roles I get- whether they’ll be on pointe or not. I look forward to the Nutcracker every year because it’s a lot of fun.
I would say for other people, it’s a really nice community that we have every year with the Nutcracker because you get to meet new people and you get to do it again with older friends and get to try something new every year with new roles and new opportunities. So I’d say it’s just a really good opportunity for people to start dancing because everybody is going to get a part if you audition so you don’t necessarily have to be super advanced in order to be in the Nutcracker. You can just have fun with it.
Interviewer: So there’s something for everyone.
“Hi. My name is Sage Melton and I’ve been dancing since I was 2 years old. I’ve been in the Nutcracker for many years and think it’s a great opportunity for kids and dancers of all ages and levels to have the experience of how it is to be in a professional production.
I’m really looking forward to the Nutcracker because this year we are going to have a live orchestra, which will be a new experience for me and all the other dancers who do the Nutcracker. I’m going to make new friends this year- it will be a new experience and I’ll get a different part in the Nutcracker so I’ll see how that will be.
I love Dance Kids because it’s just a great opportunity to progress your work in dance and ballet and you get to make new friends. It’s just a wonderful opportunity and a lot of fun.”
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