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Stronger dancers bolster this year's Nutcracker ballet

Posted: December 8, 2011 - 12:01am
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Philip Krauter works with Misha Culver during rehearsal for "The Nutcracker."  Klas Stolpe / juneau empire
Klas Stolpe / juneau empire
Philip Krauter works with Misha Culver during rehearsal for "The Nutcracker."

This year’s holiday ballet performance of The Nutcracker by Juneau Dance Unlimited will feature some exciting changes, built on the growing strength of Juneau’s young dancers.

“The girls are all stronger now,” artistic director and choreographer Philip Krauter said. “They are all being accepted and going off to ballet schools in the summers now.”

For the first time, in fact, the athletic and technically difficult role of the Sugar Plum Fairy will not be performed by an outside professional ballet company’s pointe shoes.

Instead, Juneau’s own Misha Culver, 15, will bring her skills to the ballet’s principle part. Culver studied this past summer in Florida with the Orlando Ballet Company. She will be partnered with guest artist Michael Galloway, 25, as the Cavalier. Galloway is from Company C Contemporary Ballet studio in Walnut Creek, Calif.

The strength of JDU dancers has also upgraded The Waltz Of The Flowers. Anouk Otsea, who spent the summer studying at the Joffrey Ballet in New York, and Gabrielle Duvernay, who spent the summer months with the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, have taken the classical one Dew Drop Fairy role to two and will do so on pointe.

This year’s production will also be exciting in that the Snow Dance will feature eight Snowflakes on pointe. Snow Queen Madison Truitt, who summered at California Ballet School in San Diego, will be the principal figure, sister Marissa is in the snow piece and sister Sydney has landed the Clara role.

Marie New, who also studied at Joffrey this summer, will be another accomplished dancer to watch.

Spanish will include new costumes and four dancers, another first. More dancers have been added to the Merlitons Dance of the Reed Pipes and they too are on pointe. And Luis Torreblanca, the Nutcracker Prince, will also dance as the Russian.

“You should expect to be extremely entertained,” Krauter said. “This is the strongest group of dancers we have ever had. The kids are all more technically developed. This definitely isn’t a recital any more.”

But it is still all about the holidays and the kids.

“I like that we have so many younger dancers,” Krauter, who is also Herr Drosselmeyer, said. “The Nutcracker is for them because of the number of young kid parts. There are not that many ballets where you can put young kids in roles. I like the fact that all of our young dancers are stronger and will continue to develop over the years.”

“The Nutcracker” will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the JDHS auditorium.

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