Learning from classics

Posted: Thursday, December 08, 2005

Juneau Dance Unlimited ballet master Philip Krauter has been a professional dancer since 1976 and has performed in more than 15 versions of "The Nutcracker." He hopes to take everything he's learned about Tchaikovsky's holiday classic and start a new tradition at JDU of performing the work each year.

"I'm trying to take all my experiences of all the Nutcrackers I've done in my life and put that in our production," Krauter said.

"We're going to have to build our Nutcracker up slowly from year to year," Krauter said. "It's very expensive and our budget is limited. What we're going to do this year is get really good costumes together and try to do good staging and good choreography."

"The Nutcracker" plays on Thursday, Dec. 15, and Friday, Dec. 16, at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium. Tickets are $7.50 for ages 12 and under, $15 for adults, and available at the JDU office on the second floor of the Scottish Rite Temple or at the door.

The school is also starting the tradition of inviting a guest artist to perform with the students. Jennifer Curry, a principal dancer with the California Ballet Co., will star as the Sugarplum Fairy.

Curry has been dancing with the California Ballet Co. since 1986. She was named soloist in 1990. After six years with Ballet El Paso, she rejoined the California Ballet as a principal dancer in 1998. Curry is a teacher with the California Ballet School and has also been a guest artist with Michigan Opera Theater, San Diego Opera and the Tbilisi Choreographic Institute in the former Soviet state of Georgia.

"I really wanted the city to see a professional dancer do that lead role," Krauter said. "Jennifer is an accomplished dancer and I'm real happy that she's coming here."

"the nutcracker"

juneau dance unlimited

when: 7 p.m. thursday and friday, dec. 15-16

where: juneau-douglas high school auditorium

tickets: $7.50 for ages 12 and under, $15 for adults, and available at the jdu office on the second floor of the scottish rite temple or at the door

"Nutcracker" is not a new idea in Juneau. L'Ecole de Ballet, a school based in Auke Bay, performed its eighth version of the play a few weeks ago at the auditorium. The Oregon Ballet Theater visited Juneau last winter and presented a stripped-down version of the work. Even Juneau Dance Unlimited has taken on "Nutcracker" before. But the company's recent productions have been scenes, rather than entire passages.

"We're trying to build up our school in the mold of a fine arts dance school, and to me, 'Nutcracker' is one thing we can offer our students and our community," Krauter said. "Juneau has had some eclectic versions of 'Nutcracker' come and go, and some of the local schools have done their versions of it."

"For a small school like this, we want to keep a tradition of fine arts training and I want them to dance a more traditional version of 'The Nutcracker' so they learn how to dance classical ballet," he said. "Being able to perform a 'Nutcracker' will allow our students to develop that passion, that language, that technique."

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