Annual “Nutcracker” Performance Hits Skagit Valley Academy of Dance This December


Skagit Valley Academy of Dance will put on three performances of the classic Christmas tale “The Nutcracker.” “Nutcracker flyer” by Tricia Raleigh is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Nadia Mazonson, Reporter

Skagit Valley Academy of Dance (SVAD) will present its 30th annual production of The Nutcracker on December 6, 7, and 8. Timeless and classic, the Nutcracker is an enduringly popular Christmas-themed ballet based on a story by E.T.A Hoffmann, which follows a young girl who goes on a dreamlike journey on Christmas Eve.
This ballet has been rendered by countless ballet companies such as Pacific Northwest Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and New York City Ballet.
“In general, we believe that The Nutcracker has maintained its popularity due to the fact that it is a story that even non-ballet enthusiasts can relate to and enjoy,” said Shelly Whan, co-owner of Skagit Valley Academy of Dance. “For SVAD’s productions, we genuinely believe that we have taken great strides to create a show that everyone can enjoy, from young and old, dancers and non-dancers.”
Since the academy’s first production, it is clear that Whan and co-owner Kelly Fellers take pride in making their productions as engaging and professional as possible, even with finite resources. Whan and Fellers produced their first Nutcracker at only 24 years old, working with a restricted budget, only two choreographers, and limited costuming choices.
“We did not have the technology that we have now, so we had to manually change all of our backdrops by throwing ropes down from the catwalk, tying it to the bottom and muscling it to the top,” said Whan. “We also had to use a hand crank to make the tree grow, and many more limitations for props due to space and costs. All of this meant more main curtain closures and a lot less magic happening live.”
Although their resources and technology have drastically improved, their commitment to the shows has stayed constant. This is evident in their students, who are well aware of the work they have put in.
“I really do encourage SWHS students to come spend a few hours watching this because being behind the curtains and seeing how much work, time, and effort all these dancers put into this show is truly insane and it would be so rewarding to see more people we all know come recognise that,” said Allyson Tucker, who has danced in the Nutcracker for four years.
Junior Savannah Halverson, who has been in the production for eight years, echoes this statement.
“One thing I think the audience will enjoy is just the storytelling we do as a studio,” Halverson said. “There’s never just one act that’s more amazing than the other. And the people in each production [are] so nice and dedicated.”
This enthusiasm and gratitude for the production is reflected by both dancers and choreographers alike.
“We are proud of our growth as a dance studio, of all of our dancers, our choreographers, our prop crews, and our community,” said director Shelly Whan. “We really are like kids during the run of the show, every bit as excited as a child at Christmas.”