Area dance companies ready ‘Nutcracker’ performances

DanceCompany-X performers will perform “The Nutcracker Express” this weekend at Milford High School. The production combines elements from “The Polar Express” and “The Nutcracker.” (Submitted photo)

Michele Xiques Arnold knew she had a winner when she combined the iconic “Nutcracker” ballet with the popular “Polar Express” story. Three years later, dancers are still performing the tale now dubbed, ‘The Nutcracker Express.’

With seasoned professionals traveling to perform along with them from around the east coast, young Dance Company-X dancers, a group formed under the First State Dance Academy in Milford, are ready to show off their talents from the Milford High School auditorium stage this weekend.

It is one of a number of “Nutcracker” productions being staged around the area this weekend.

Ms. Xiques Arnold said the event has been well received in the past and she hopes the dancers are just as supported this year.

“It was great. Everybody loved it. Normally in audiences, you get like just friends and family, but we noticed a lot of strangers coming to it and every time we’ve gone somewhere to share a flyer or advertise or talk to anyone, like at the (Milford) Holiday Stroll, they are excited because it’s different. They love the ‘Polar Express’ story and they love the ‘Nutcracker,’ so they get two in one because it offers more than just ballet,” she said.

The performance includes hip-hop and character dancing, along with classic ballet techniques and familiar music from both “The Nutcracker” and “The Polar Express.”

“We want people to come and start the holidays right. A lot of times, people are surprised that we’re a local company and it’s good. People think they have to go to Philly or New York for a good show, but it’s right here. And it’s decent, and it’s good,” she said passionately.

“It’s hard to put two stories together. It all has to flow and match the abilities of our group. They’re small, but they are mighty. And they love doing what they do. They love doing something like this. They put their hearts and souls and everything into it. It would break their hearts if we didn’t get people into the audience who can get out there and support the arts.”

Young dancers in the Milford area started auditioning and rehearsing for this performance back in August before school began. Since then, they have worked several nights a week and weekends to perfect their artwork for this weekend’s show.

“They are very committed to rehearsing and this production. For them to go through the aches and pains, very long days and the good and the bad for that moment when they open the curtain and to not see people out there rejoicing in what they have done, that is heartbreaking for the kids,” Ms. Xiques Arnold said.

Lily Gibbs portrays Clara in Delaware Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” today at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. at Delaware State University’s Education and Humanities Theater. (Artful I Photography)

“Dr. Wiegman told me after he came to one of our shows, I think it was the first year we did it. He told me, ‘You know, I go to Pennsylvania every year to see ‘The Nutcracker,’ or to New York, and I’m just happy here. That was fantastic.’ He was completely surprised. So that was a great compliment. It’s a big and important thing for these kids to know that there’s people out there watching them. They love that.”

“The Nutcracker Express” will be performed in the auditorium at Milford High School Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $15 for adults and $10 for children and seniors or online ahead of time for the same price. For more information or advanced tickets, visit them online at www.DanceCo-X.com.

Diamond Dance Company

Young dancers from another Milford-based group, Diamond Dance Company, will also perform this weekend. They have prepared the traditional “Nutcracker” ballet, which they will perform in the auditorium at Lake Forest High School in Felton.

Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and Saturday, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for premium reserved seats, or $15 for adults and $10 for children, students and seniors. They can be purchased at the door or online at https://events.tututix.com/SouthernDelawareBallet/Events/Listing.

Ballet Theatre of Dover

The Ballet Theatre of Dover will present “The Nutcracker” at Dover High School Friday at 7 and Saturday at 3 and 7 p.m.

Guest male dancer, Christopher Mitchell, is a 19–year old, who recently attended the Bolshoi Academy in Russia by invitation and scholarship.

He will dance as the Nutcracker Prince opposite Phoenix Riehl, a 16-year-old 11th-grade student at Dover High, who will tackle the dual of Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy.

She will be joined by other students of the Capital School District including Emmie Huber, Abria Pegues, Daijia Cumings, Sophia Evans, Kiki Gillis–Graham, Trinity August and Lauren Miles from William Henry Middle School, Central Middle School and Dover High School.

A Nutcracker Tea Party will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the high school with children and parents invited to dress up for the occasion. Pastries, sweet, tea and fruit will be served.

For tickets, call 734-9717 or visit www.dancebtd.com.

Delaware Ballet

The Delaware Ballet will present its 28th annual production of “The Nutcracker” Friday night at 7 and Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. at Delaware State University’s Education and Humanities Theater.

Tickets are available on eventbrite.com and at the door.

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