Lesley Chisholm Photography

‘The Nutcracker’ production at The Bailey

Shows go in Trail theatre on Saturday and Sunday

Everyone’s favourite Christmas toy is about to come alive to defeat the evil Mouse King in a battle that’s sprinkled with sugary treats and warm and toasty feels.

The community is invited to experience the beloved ballet The Nutcracker, presented by Kootenay DanceWorks at the Charles Bailey Theatre Saturday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 8 at 2:30 p.m.

“People can expect to see the dancers’ excitement on stage as they perform, their commitment to one another, and their drive and dedication. There is a beautiful energy,” shares studio director Renée Salsiccioli. “These are young dancers-in-training who are preparing to go on stage, acting and dancing and taking on a full ballet production. It’s an amazing community effort.”

The performance is the brainchild of Salsiccioli and former studio dancer and fellow producer Geraldine Potter. The two dance instructors have been planning to collaborate on the piece for several years, and with the addition of Dana Sauvé to the Rossland studio last year, the timing finally felt right.

“I’ve always wanted to do The Nutcracker; everyone knows the story, and it’s just so magical. It brings everyone together too, which is pretty special.”

The Nutcracker is a Russian Shchelkunchik ballet by Pyotr Tchaikovsky that’s been adapted into various forms. The ballet is loosely based on the E.T.A. Hoffmann fantasy story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, about a girl who befriends a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve.

The Kootenay DanceWorks show presents a combination of studio dancers, former ballet students, and children excited for their first stage experience; some parents are even joining the production to round out the cast. Salsiccioli and Potter choreographed the piece together this past summer, enlisting Sauvé’s help to choreograph ‘The Candy Canes,’ polish the steps, and finesse the other moving parts necessary for a spectacular show.

The dedicated group of performers started rehearsing and setting the production in June; they’ve been rehearsing hard since October to ensure they’ll wow the audience this yuletide season.

Salsiccioli plans to produce an annual show, and already has her sights set on next year, when she’ll add guest artists and again reach out to other studios in hopes of building and transforming the performance each time it hits the stage. Costumes and theatre props are beginning to pile up in her studio, all of which she intends to save and repurpose in the years to come. To produce a show of this calibre the first time is costly, but Salsiccioli is hoping to break even by filling the seats for the two performances.

Kootenay DanceWorks has been a staple in the community since 2006. It’s dedicated to promoting the art of classical ballet, which is the foundation for nearly all dance genres.

Salsiccioli began dancing in Trail under Carol Bonin at McKay School of Dance before pursuing a career that had her involved with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Banff Centre of the Arts, Alberta Ballet, and Ottawa Ballet. She retired as a professional dancer in the mid-90s when Ottawa Ballet suspended operation due to financial constraints. After some years away from dance, she enrolled in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet teacher training program, and taught for 8 years in the prestigious Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Professional Division. With a baby on the way, she decided to move home; before she knew it, she was raising a family and a studio in her hometown.

Salsiccioli’s dancers receive excellent technical training in an environment that fosters an unbridled love of dance. Her passion for dance and fondness for children is the driving force that motivates her students to strive for their personal best.

“There is something beautiful about working with kids. Dance helps them through their challenges, and I love getting to know each student as an individual,” she says.” I’ve seen kids who need dance. They may struggle in school, with peers or academics, but when these kids come through the door, they’re excited. The studio is a safe place and, through dance, they begin to find their way in other areas of life. My hope is always that sharing kindness and compassion strengthens our community. At the end of the day, it’s not just about creating dancers; it’s about creating really beautiful beings.”

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