Arts & Entertainment

A Three-Decade Flathead Tradition

The Nutcracker will kick off the holidays Nov. 29-Dec. 1

The annual weekend of sugar plums, dew drops and ballet will grace the stage at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts for the Nutcracker performance to kick off the holiday season.

On Thanksgiving weekend, 44 dancers from the Northwest Ballet School and Company will perform the 31st Nutcracker ballet at the arts center.

“The community is very supportive; they always have been when it comes to our productions and our shows and the kids,” Northwest Ballet Company Director Marisa Roth said.

While the traditional Nutcracker music and story remain the same every year, Roth changes the choreography, sets and costumes for each performance.

“I have to plan each year according to my cast and their abilities,” Roth said.

Different scenes this year include a puppet show during the party scene and a “woman in the shoe” scene where the younger students dance out of a shoe.

Roth says it’s been about 15 years since the “woman in the shoe” scene has been performed, which was 17-year-old Christen Smith’s first Nutcracker. She’s preparing for her final Nutcracker this Thanksgiving before she closes out her final year at Northwest Ballet. After almost 15 years with the ballet school and her ninth Nutcracker, she’s finishing her senior year and heading to Montana State University next fall.

“I’m really gonna miss it,” Smith said. “The Nutcracker’s always been so special to me, dancing with everyone from all age groups … it’s just so much fun to see their talent.”

She started her Nutcracker career as a mouse and will finish as the Dew Drop and the Rat Queen.

Nicholas Thompson, 13, will perform his third Nutcracker. He says he’s looking forward to future performances and plans to dance with Northwest Ballet until the age cutoff of 17. He’ll play the Nutcracker Prince.

Roth says there are a record six boys dancing this year, more than the company has ever seen.

Since Roth began at Northwest Ballet as a student, she says The Nutcracker previously took place every other year since it was such a large production. But over the years, the performance evolved into an annual ballet due to its popularity.

Between costume seamstresses, videographers and volunteers, she says the work behind the scenes is filled with resources and support.

“That’s what fun about the Northwest Ballet family — everybody’s got a part,” she said.

Roth encourages people to get their tickets early since the show sells out every year.

The Nutcracker will show at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, Nov. 29 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 1 at 4 p.m. The Sugar Plum Fairy Parade will follow the 2 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday.

Tickets for reserved seating are available Thursday, Nov. 28 at the Kalispell Grand Hotel at 100 Main Street and can be reached at (406) 755-8100. Tickets will be available at the art center’s box office one hour before the performances.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors 65 and over and $15 for children 12 and under.

For more information, visit http://www.northwestballet.com.

maggie@flatheadbeacon.com

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