A waltz of the flowers

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2003

When Whitney Ric-kards was growing up in Utah, she would go to Ballet West's performance of "The Nutcracker" every year.

"A lot of the younger girls would try out to be party girls, or if you were a certain height, you would try out to be a soldier," said Rickards, a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School. "It's been part of my life for a long time."

Rickards and 11 of her fellow dancers at Juneau Dance Unlimited will stage a scaled-down performance of the second act of Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky's famous ballet for the JDU winter performance, 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12, and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Scottish Rite Temple, near Fourth and Main streets.

Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children under 12. Call 463-5327 or visit www.juneaudance.com for more information.

"The story is a classic," Rickards said. "Sometimes it's hard for me to realize that people in Juneau don't know the story. It's like saying you've never seen 'The Wizard of Oz.' "

The show, about 20 minutes long, will include many of the traditional dances, including the famous "Mother Ginger Dance."

"Some of the dances are easy, and then others, like 'The Russian Dance,' are hard for me," said Callie Neary, a home-schooled seventh-grader.

"To do a full version of 'The Nutcracker' you need all the parts, even the mothers and the fathers and a lot of little kids who are willing to behave," Rickards said. "You need a lot of dancers."

JDU Artistic Director Eckhard Heidrich choreographed all the dances in the show. He directed the piece previously in Texas.

"It's normally a tradition for Christmas," Heidrich said. "Everywhere you go, musical companies have 'The Nutcracker.' I only did the second act, what I could use from it. I really think the girls have tremendously improved."

Winter semester classes at JDU begin Jan. 5.

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