Record number of dancers participate in annual production

For some, it’s not Christmastime without the Nutcracker, a ballet that was adapted by Alexandre Dumas Pére’s of E.T.A. Hoffman’s story and set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovksy. A Russian ballet, it premiered in western countries in the 1940s and has remained a Christmas tradition.

North County Dance and Performing Arts Foundation will present its annual production of the Nutcracker ballet Thursday, Dec. 6 through Sunday, Dec. 9 at the Templeton Performing Arts Center on the campus of Templeton High School.

“It’s definitely a family tradition,” Director Cheryle Armstrong said. “It’s a heart-warming story. We try to keep it traditional, [though] we twist it a little.”

The ballet tells the story of a young girl named Clara who gets a nutcracker from her Uncle Drosselmeyer on Christmas Eve and is transported to another world in her dreams.

This year’s cast includes Kaela Tran as Clara, Jenevieve Crossett as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Billy Cusimano as Drosselmeyer and Samuel Fulk, a guest artist from Sacramento, as the Cavalier.

“He’s fantastic,” Armstrong said. “He’s very musical and fun.”

The cast for the 2018 season of the Nutcracker has a record number of dancers, which come from throughout the entire North County. The cast has nearly 75 people of all ages, quite a few more than past years, North County Dance and Performing Arts Foundation Vice President Cali Domenghini said. Past years have had 40 to 50 cast members. What changed it this year, Domenghini said is that the foundation opened up participation to dance students around the county. Main Street Dance owner Jocelyn Willis is one of the production’s choreographers and she has more than 15 dancers in the cast.

Another change to this production is the addition of a new assistant director – Taylor Santero.

“Taylor is also our jazz company director,” Domenghini said. “We’re excited to have her on board.”

While the rehearsals are held at Class Act Dance in Paso Robles, dancers who train anywhere are welcome to audition. The only requirement, Armstrong said, is that dancers have at least one year of training – that includes even the youngest dancers.

For more information, email info@northcountyperformingarts.org.

Nutcracker ballet performance dates

• Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.
(open dress rehearsal and student night)
• Friday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.
• Saturday, Dec. 8 at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Sunday, Dec. 9 at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Tickets are $29 for adults and $24 for children
12 and younger and seniors 62 and older.
For the open dress rehearsal, tickets may
be purchased at NCDPAF.org.
Sugar Plum Tea Party
• Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. at Cantinas on the Park
General admission is $18, get a VIP upgrade
with photos for an additional $5