Young dancers all over northern Nevada gave two performances of one of the world’s most popular fairy-tale ballets in John Ascuaga’s Nugget’s Celebrity Showroom. It was my first time seeing the show live and it was highly entertaining. It was obvious this group of trained young people was dedicated to its craft, graceful, confident and certainly knows how to put on a good show.
Everything from the ballet itself to glimmering and velvet-looking costumes was eye-catching. Principal dancer Christopher Wrede, the Nutcracker Prince, came to life after Clara’s beloved gift was broken by her brother and gave a grand, suave impression of a dream hero. Wrede, now an eight-year veteran as the Prince, knows his part well and his mentoring of his counterpart who played Clara is demonstrated well. Thirteen-year-old Tess Dusich naturally captured the innocence Clara embodies.
Artistic director and Tess’ mother Lesa Dusich had worried whether Tess was right for the part, but her concerns, it seems, were unfounded.
But most Sparks locals went there for one thing: to watch their own cherub or dancer take the stage and dance their little heart out. No one could keep from grinning and chuckling at the small group consisting of 4- to maybe 6-year-olds as they were transported onto the stage in a giant box painted like a present, popped out and lined up as they’d been taught to on the stage.
They did their little dance, formed a line as more cherubs kept crawling to the front and repeating their dance. Then they all squished back into their giant present with one cherub stealing a box, finding herself chased by an older cast member then cleverly making it back inside the box.
It was most obvious how much fun they were having when one of the little girls was supposed to stay well-concealed behind the curtain, but she could still be seen from the audience and was imitating the moves of the older dancers as they exited the stage.
Dusich, also artistic director for the production, said last week the show is adaptable for a stage of any size. It was particularly suitable for the Celebrity Showroom, which allowed for backdrops including a large Christmas tree, the Stahlbaums’ house and a winter wonderland full of snow-covered pine trees, all elegantly painted and convincing for the scenes.
It also gave performers the ability to showcase some well-choreographed moves and provided ample room for multiple dancers, especially for the Christmas Eve party at the Stahlbaums’ house when a number of guests partake in a ballroom-style dance.
But as Dusich also explained last week, the second act was stronger in comparison to the first act. Dancers took on a more international personality with Russian males performing their Trepak, a couple representing Arabians and performing impressive spins and Clara and the Prince’s final departure as they dance alongside the one who brought the Nutcracker to life in the first place.
It was an excellent effort by the RDC, one that I’m sure its upcoming audiences as it travels to other cities in northern Nevada will delight in as well.