PENDLETON — The Snow Queen, the Sugarplum Fairy and Clara will all dance “The Nutcracker” for Pendleton Ballet Theatre again this holiday season. Performances are scheduled for Dec. 1-4 in the Bob Clapp Theatre at Blue Mountain Community College.
“Christmas for me means ‘Nutcracker.’ It wouldn’t be Christmas if I wasn’t doing this show,” dancer Samantha Mahaffy said. “It’s my favorite thing about Christmas.”
“The Nutracker” is a longstanding tradition for Pendleton Ballet Theatre. While the group rotates its spring ballet shows, the Nutcracker returns each year, always the first week of December.
For some of the dancers, 2022 will be their final Nutcracker performance as they prepare to graduate high school and move on to other stages of life.
“I’m trying not to think about this being my last,” high school senior Chloe Chay said. “It feels unreal right now. It’s been a huge part of my life.”
Chay is dancing in her seventh Nutcracker and is this year’s Snow Queen.
“I’ve been wanting this role for a while. It is a lot of work, very hard work, but I’m glad it’s something I can finally do for my last year,” she said.
The Christmas Fairy, Lizzie Holden, is also a high school senior who will be at college next fall.
“It’s all of the emotions,” Holden said. “It’s sad, it’s happy, it’s scary.”
It is the 14th Nutcracker for Holden, and the 11th for Analie Carnes, the Sugarplum Fairy.
“Nutcracker is my favorite, so I’m sad. It’s a special time of year that I’m going to miss so much,” she said. “This show is just magic.”
Rounding out the team of seniors is Sydnee Enright, dancing her 13th Nutcracker. Enright graduates this year but will come back for Nutcracker in 2023. She said ballet is harder than it looks but a great opportunity for Pendleton.
“Nutcracker is something to get you out of your comfort zone. It’s a different side of Pendleton,” she said. “It’s a different experience.”
The director of Pendleton Ballet Theatre, Julie Sneden Carlson, said Nutcracker is a special and emotional experience.
“At 65 years old, I have performed in (or directed/choreographed) more Nutcrackers than I can remember. So many different versions, so many different dancers. None have been as emotional for me as the Nutcrackers in the last few years,” she said.
Sneden Carlson said the COVID-19 pandemic brought the members of PBT closer, learning resilience together as rules adapted and changed.
“We overcame differences. TOGETHER. Now, as I am readying everyone for another Nutcracker, I find myself more emotional than I have ever been,” she said.
“While I still have so many wonderful dancers, four of my beloved girls are heading off to college next year. I have said goodbye to so many very beloved dancers, so this is not new. But yet it feels different. Maybe it’s because there will be a much larger hole.”
Sneden Carlson is dedicating this show to the graduating seniors and to all the graduating/graduated dancers beginning their adult lives.
Advance ticket sales for The Nutcracker will be offered two days only: from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, and from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25. Both advance ticket sale opportunities are at the PBT studio, 427 S. Main St., Pendleton. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for children under 12, cash and check only. Remaining tickets will be available at the door.
Performances begin at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 and at 2 p.m. on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4. A bake sale of holiday treats will take place before each performance and during intermission.
Raffle tickets for holiday baskets will also be for sale.
The dancers all said they are looking forward to the performances, even though it is a lot of work to put a ballet together.
“Nutcracker is the time of year I say it is now time for Christmas trees and Christmas music,” Chay said. “Nutcracker is a great segue into Christmastime, into Christmas magic.”
Find more information about Pendleton Ballet Theatre at www.facebook.com/pendletonballettheatre.
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