For the fifth year, the Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania will bring a classic holiday tradition to State College. “The Nutcracker” will take the stage at Eisenhower Auditorium on Dec. 10-11.
The festive holiday ballet has been passed down through generations and is beloved by many for its beautiful choreography, fanciful costumes and recognizable score. Audiences are whisked away to an enchanting world filled with fairies, toy soldiers, dancing snowflakes and more. But this magical experience doesn’t come easily. The talented staff and performers at PASCP have been hard at work for the past few months, and they’re ready to share the results with families and ballet fans throughout Centre County.
Led by artistic director Rebecca Maciejczyk, a skilled group of more than 60 performers, ages 6-18, started preparations as early as late September. Maciejczyk is quick to recognize the effort the entire staff puts into the annual production.
“Most of our faculty has a hand in the choreography in some way, which I love,” she said. “We all have just our little personal touches in it.”
New opportunities were provided for aspiring dancers this season, with fresh roles for the school’s male students in the ballet’s iconic battle scene. For the second year, PASCP also opened its doors for community auditions, allowing interested adults to join in on the fun during the party scene in Act I.
All of the student participants in this year’s performance are heavily involved with the school, as a prerequisite for being considered for the production is a minimum workload of two classes per week.
Two students, Alyssa Boob and Madelyn Wolf, have been with PASCP for five and nine years, respectively. Both high school juniors, they have performed in all five of the school’s productions of “The Nutcracker.” Audiences can see Wolf playing the roles of both the Snow Queen and Dew Drop, and Boob as the Sugar Plum Fairy. While each acknowledges the lengthy hours and hard work necessary to produce such a performance, they’re eager for the upcoming weekend. The most rewarding part, they say?
“Getting on the stage and knowing that you spent so long working with this and listening to the music and practicing and finally putting it on and loving every second of it,” Wolf said.
“Just being on stage and feeling like, ‘Wow, I’m on stage and I’m performing for these people’ and your feet don’t hurt anymore ... you don’t feel anything, you’re just with the music. It’s great,” Boob said.
After their time at PASCP, both girls look forward to pursuing careers in professional dance and ballet.
Regardless of spectators’ experience with the story of “The Nutcracker” and ballet in general, the school ensures an enriching experience for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
“I hope that (audiences are) moved by the musicality of the performance. I hope that they recognize the connection between the score and the choreography,” Maciejczyk said. “I always like to — when I’m watching something — just to be, not just content, but to be fulfilled by the fact that it sort of ties together. I think that that’s the big thing.”
A special prelude concert will take place before the shows, with performances from the school’s Central Pennsylvania Youth Orchestra.
IF YOU GO
- What: Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania’s “The Nutcracker”
- When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 and 3 p.m. Dec. 11
- Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park
- Info: 800-ARTS-TIX, www.pascp.org