by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
The third annual “Nutcracker” by North Ballet of Rogers last Saturday was once again a rich visual holiday treat at Zabee Theatre, even more so than the last two years.
A unique opportunity for the Elk River area to view a home-grown ballet, “Nutcracker” drew about 1,300 persons combined at two performances.
This year’s presentation under a new director, Breanna Dvorak, had new costumes and a new set, and added attractions, most notably Land of Lakes Choirboys under director Aaron Carpenter joining in for the first time. Also new were snowflakes falling on the stage, and the Reed Pipe Dance (dancing flutes).
“The productions went very well,” said North Ballet owner Katie Kocinski, “and both myself and Ms. Dvorak were very satisfied with all aspects.”
She cited the skills and dedication of the students; beautiful new costumes, much of which created on donated time by talented seamstresses Dorothy Bogle of Dayton and Shannon Sivula of Coon Rapids; and colorful new backdrops and artful choreography.
North Ballet was elated to have Land of Lakes Choirboys on board after discussing this possibility with Carpenter for some time, said Kocinski.
The production was graced once again both professionals Christopher Sellars (Nutcracker Prince) and Arolyn Williams (Sugar Plum) of Ballet West, who performed the same Nutracker pieces (Sugar Plum and Prince variations) at sold-out Kennedy Center two weeks earlier, along with Maple Grove ballet pro Luke Tucker.
A wrap-up dinner for cast and families was held at Holiday Inn of Otsego (a primary sponsor), after which the kids were able to pick the brains of Sellars, Williams, Dvorak (who trained at Bolshoi in Moscow), and theatre tech team professional Dan Wold of Fridley. The kids asked about what inspired them to pursue ballet as a profession, what character traits are helpful, advice for kids who want a ballet career.
Kocinski said it was “definitely a one-of-a-kind opportunity” for participants of the North Ballet Youth Company Nutcracker Ballet.