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New PASCP dancers bring unique expression to ‘The Nutcracker’

by on November 30, 2016 1:50 PM

UNIVERSITY PARK — One of the region's most cherished traditions will return to Eisenhower Auditorium on Saturday, Dec. 10, and Sunday, Dec. 11, when the curtain opens on Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania's “The Nutcracker” ballet.

Despite its familiarity, each new season brings new dancers to the many different roles, each dancer bringing unique expression to his or her  character.

The plot has little variation. A little girl named Marie (Clara Pollock and Vivienne Booz) receives a nutcracker on Christmas Eve. In the middle of the night, a battle ensues between toy soldiers and an army of mice. The Nutcracker (Axel Shultz) comes to life and he and Marie proceed to the Land of Sweets. Here they meet the Sugarplum Fairy (Alyssa Boob), the Snow Queen (Madelyn Wolf), the Chinese, Arabian, Spanish and Russian dancers and waltzing flowers.

At a recent rehearsal of the battle scene, choreographer Rebecca Maciejczyk led a couple dozen dancers through the intricate steps and formations that will define the scene.
"This scene needs a lot of work," she told her dancers, "but that's OK. This happens every year."

As the rehearsal progressed, the chaos indeed began to turn into something else. With two distinct factions fighting it out, the group representing soldiers armed with candy canes engaged a fierce squad of mice, led by Mary Rose Valentine as Mouse King, in a prolonged rumble. Each side moved through the syncopated leaps, hops and footwork with precision and strength. Valentine wielded a double-headed battle axe, which ultimately proved no match for a slipper thrown by Marie.

"This year we made a new role for the boys in the battle," Maciejczyk said, "We try to extend roles for boys."

Robert Fulton, from the Allegheny Ballet, will dance the role of the Cavalier, the Sugarplum Fairy's partner.

Boob, who recently studied at the Bolshoi School, will dance Sugarplum for the first time this year. The Penns Valley junior said, “With the partnering experience, I have to always think about where to put my arms and how to use my weight."  

Fulton will also dance the role of Snow King, partnering Wolf. Both attend State College Area School District.

"He's very experienced and a great partner," Wolf said. Both girls will don the elegant gossamer tutus and shimmering satin toe shoes that so enchant young audiences.

"I hope children watching are like I was at that age," Boob said, "thinking that it would be amazing to be up there on stage."

“The Nutcracker's” longevity, its color, rhythm, sparkle, satin and sweeping melodies built a tradition vital to the survival of small ballet schools throughout the nation.

On a corkboard in the lobby at PASCP hangs a list of ballet terms with the English translations and explanations of each French expression. These words, the articulated backbone of the art form, comprise one small segment of a universal culture constructed on the strength, grace, stamina and discipline that one generation of dancers hands down to the next.



What: “The Nutcracker”

When: Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 11 at 3 p.m.

Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, Penn State campus

Tickets: (814) 863-0255 or


Ann is an Arts and Entertainment correspondent for the Gazette.
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