The St. Paul Arts Foundation’s Jete Dance Studio held their third annual Nutcracker performance Sunday evening, to the delight of all. Producer Seana Batke brought young Clara’s dreams to life, keeping with the true nature of the over 100 year old Russian ballet.
In September the production began on the magical show, with auditions open to all ages, and dancers from neighbouring communities. The auditions brought in the best talent from St. Paul and surrounding areas. Dancers met on Saturdays over the last three months to bring the performance to life. The sets, made by community members, were something of a big production house, with costumes that took each character to the next level.
The show opened with the Christmas Party scene, where Lana & Robert Lambert, Siobhan & Ben Winterhault, Renee & Jerred Moore, Tannis Baerg, Bradley Dubrule, Kathleen Gerlinsky and Madison Brosseau mingled and danced; totally embodying the spirit of Christmas, with no reservations in front of the home crowd.
The children began to dance, as the grown ups distracted themselves in the background. Morgan Dallaire, Kayley Gerlinsky, Kara Gerlinsky, Alexis Lambert, Rose Enriquez, Molly Gratton, Sophie Bonner, Lyric Gilmore, Elizabeth Dyck, Karlee Blain, Nemaih Goulet, Morgan McKinnon, Karley Klevtis, Taylor Hebert, Clare Baerg, Jaron Baerg, Riley Lambert, Xerxes Ampatti, Tirion Giant, Taelyn Giant, Simone Desjarlais, Kaysen Young “Fritz” all frolicked with glee.
The party erupted with the arrival of Uncle Drosselmeyer, perfected Darwin Beck. Uncle Drosselmeyer brought out an extra large wrapped gift for the children, he reached down deep and pulled out a Harlequin Doll. Without losing character, Emma Bonner dance with the movements of a doll, which had the crowd wide-eyed and ready to see what Uncle Drosselmeyer might pull out next. Out sprang a Mechanical Doll, played by Arielle Billo. Her stop and lock mechanical dance was sheer gold. And a perfect segway to the classic fight scene; which of course ends when young Clara (played by Nea Gilmore) nutcracker breaks and she cries herself to sleep on the sofa.
This begins the dream sequence that is the magic of the ballet. The Battle of the Nutcracker, Emily Kotowich and the Rat King, Taylor Balmer sets the scene as rat minions dance on and the Nutcracker is victorious. Clara and the Prince dance the first Act out to enourmous crowd applause.
Act 2 begins in the Magic Castle of the Angels with a superbly chosen cast of Alexander Kerr, Emersyn Kerr, Madelyn Martin, Myah Ashton-Muirhead, Kiera Petruk, Harlow Whiskeyjack-McGilvery, Brie Owens, Ava Goulet, Priya Whitfield, Suri Corriveau, Peyton Sams, and Vicky-Lee Wiese. What was truly amazing about the scene was although the cast was quite large, Batke was able to ensure each child shone in the scene. The Angel Queen, played by Tiana Tymko was simply divine.
The Arabian Dancers were a huge hit with the crowd, the emerald and gold costumes were a lot of fun and the dancers’ timing was spot-on. Kendal Tiley, Brooke Severyn, Milka Whiskeyjack, Jordan Gerlinsky, Morgan Dellaire, and Emma Bonner performed a ‘danse du ventre’ that that brought smiles to the crowd’s faces. With football season over, Lions’ Spencer Graling and Madison Brosseau were able to make some guest appearances in the production as the Arabian guards.
The Spanish Dance was muy maravilloso thanks to Taylor Balmer, Morgan Gerlinsky, Milana Young, and Parker Gratton.
The Chinese Dance, performed by Kayley Gerlinsky, Rose Enriquez, Arielle Billo, Alexis Lambert and Tirion Giant, showcased the young dances’ technique and skills; which captivated the crowd.
Jaron Baerg had the crowd roaring, all alone on the stage, as he performed the Russian Dance. The young dancer had the entire crowd captivated and made the stage look small, with his huge moves and brave hopak. Which was followed up with some classic ballet by Nika Boser and Emily Kotowich in the Dance of the Mirlitons.
Just as the girls had the crowd settled from the Russian dance, a cameo appearance for the ages hit the stage, Mayor Glenn Andersen as Mother Ginger. Completely in the role, the Mayor was wheeled out 12 feet tall with a skirt as tall as it was wide, full of dancers. The crowd cheered and clapped along with the music, as dancers were revealed one-by-one.
That lead the dream back to ballet, with the Waltz of the Flowers, performed by the veteran dancers, Milano Young, Nika Boser, Taylor Balmer, Emily Kotowich, Kendal Tilley, Morgan Gerlinsky, Jordan Gerlinsky, Tiana Tymko, Brooke Severyn and Nea Gilmore. The dance displayed what the ballet is; perfectly executed technique with full use of expression, timing, and body. These ten ladies were absolutely awe-inspiring.
Which could only be followed up by the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Parker Gratton and Prince Coda, Taylor Balmer.
Bravo Jete Dance Studio, Bravo! Plans are for the dance to become a staple in the Christmas season calendar in St. Paul. Surely, the packed house at the Garlic Dome will agree, it’ll be a tradition all will look forward to.