Peninsula Dance Theatre celebrates three decades of ‘Nutcracker’
By RACHEL BRANT
Central Kitsap Reporter Staff writer
November 28, 2008 · Updated 1:03 PM
Performances next weekend in Bremerton.
Nearly 100 dancers will take to the stage and bring Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” to life next weekend.
Peninsula Dance Theatre’s (PDT) “Nutcracker” ballet has spanned 30 years and PDT Director Lawan Morrison is looking forward to a good turnout Dec. 5-7 at the Bremerton Performing Arts Center at Bremerton High School.
The teenagers playing the lead roles in the production have all been PDT students for 10 years or more. Central Kitsap High School (CKHS) senior Hailey Watters, who is performing in the Spanish dance scene, said dancers must be 6 or 7 years old to perform in the “Nutcracker” and most of them started out as mice or another role.
Watters said the “Nutcracker” is her favorite performance and she looks forward to it each year.
“It really gets you into the season,” she said.
Morrison said the cast of dancers began rehearsing for the “Nutcracker” in October and rehearsals run on weeknights and weekends.
“They put in a lot of hours,” she said.
CKHS junior Rachel Soule, who plays the role of the Sugarplum Fairy, said the cast rehearses scenes separately, but as opening night approaches, they come together to practice the performance as one group.
PDT’s “Nutcracker” uses a live orchestra for the performances. The Peninsula Ballet Orchestra, led by Alan Futterman, brings the performance to life, according to Morrison.
“It takes a special conductor to play for the dancers,” she said. “(Alan’s) a really good conductor.”
Watters said she likes performing with a live orchestra, but it can be challenging because they do not always rehearse with the live music.
Morrison said an orchestra also challenges the dancers because the tempo can change with each performance.
“It really makes the kids have to listen to their music,” she said.
PDT’s “Nutcracker” boasts elaborate sets and costumes and Watters said her favorite aspect of performing is putting on her costume and makeup.
“Some of the costumes are older than some of these kids,” Morrison laughed.
Many of the dancers admitted they still get nervous before performances and Morrison said that’s a good thing.
“They have to have that little bit of anticipation or they don’t perform well,” she said.
Several dancers from PDT received scholarships and studied at ballet schools around the country this past summer. Watters spent two weeks at St. Louis Ballet and said she is a better performer because of the experience.
“Sometimes when you go away you can learn things that you can bring back,” she said. “I always feel like when I go to a camp that I’m stronger when I come back.”
CKHS sophomore Logan Martin spent six weeks at Houston Ballet. He plays the Snow King and Spanish cavalier in this year’s “Nutcracker.”
“It’s exciting (to study at other ballet schools),” he said. “We are a really well-rounded company.”
Morrison said she is proud of the dancers at PDT and the additional training makes them better performers.
“It’s very exciting to me to see them all grow into beautiful dancers,” she said. “They’re all excelling greatly throughout the years. They amaze me.”
“It’s the best,” Watters said. “I think we have the best nonprofessional ‘Nutcracker.’”
PDT’s “Nutcracker” is at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 6 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7 at the Bremerton Performing Arts Center. Tickets in the reserved section are $22. Festival seating for adults is $17, $12 for students and seniors and $10 for children ages 10 and younger. Family tickets cost $55 for two adults and three children. Military and groups of 10 or more receive $1 off per ticket.
Tickets can be purchased at PDT, located at 515 Chester Ave. in Bremerton. For more information, call PDT at (360) 377-6214 or visit www.peninsuladancetheatre.org.