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PASCP’s The Nutcracker continues progression

by on November 30, 2017 9:13 AM

UNIVERSITY PARK — On Dec. 9 and 10, when Eisenhower Auditorium raises its curtain on The Nutcracker, the Performing Arts School of Central PA (PASCP) will once again share its sugarplum visions with the community.

And for several young ladies, the 2017 performance marks another step in their progression through this quintessential career landmark. Sixteen-year-old Moe Kawasaki will dance the coveted Sugar Plum Fairy role this year. She can recall her earliest Nutcracker experience at around four years old.

"I remember being a 'gold angel'," she said laughing, "we were off the music and we missed a cue."

The misstep didn't discourage Kawasaki and it certainly didn't lessen anyone's confidence in her abilities. She went on to dance increasingly complex roles with more challenging choreography. Over the years, she added the roles of Snow Angel, Mouse, Chinese corps and Marzipan to her list of achievements.

Gillian Dash, 17, and Anna Snellgrove, 13, tell similar stories. Both dancers graduated from portraying characters that spend most of their time smiling, hopping and scampering to roles demanding more technical finesse.

Dash will dance the Snow Queen role this year,  with choreography that demands stamina as well as poise.

She described one of her earliest Nutcracker memories, saying, "My mom told me how the Sugar Plum Fairy's tutu brushed up against me backstage, and I just stared at her the entire time. Everything was amazing in this whole new world."

Snellgrove's background includes the roles of Marzipan, Snow corps and flowers. In the upcoming production, she landed the part of Dew Drop Fairy, the most rigorous of her work to date.

"It has a series of fouettés, " she said, referencing a turn that requires the dancer to begin and end balanced on the same foot, "single, single, double. It takes a lot of strength.”

The fact remains that very young children comprise much of the Nutcracker cast. They look adorable in mouse, soldier and angel costumes, while punctuating the story of the little girl whose dolls come to life. The Christmas party, the battle scene and the Kingdom of Sweets would never enchant audiences without the little ones. But the children's roles do more than entertain. For many, they provide the first steps along a path that just might lead to pointe shoes, partners and solos.

"I look at the little angels," Dash remarked, "and I love watching them. Nutcracker is so magical to them, and you can see how much they enjoy it."



Ann is an Arts and Entertainment correspondent for the Gazette.
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