African dance, tap and hip hop are a few of the styles that will be incorporated into Centre Dance’s unique take on “The Nutcracker.”
“The kids are very versatile dancers, so they’re into things like jazz and hip hop. Every year I try to add things to represent that,” said Nicole Swope, the founder and director of the State College-based dance company.
Despite these additions, Swope stressed that the audience can still expect a mostly traditional ballet that tells the classic “Nutcracker” story. Although the studio has performed the show for more than two decades, a large part of the draw comes from the fact that they change the production every year.
“The choreography changes depending on who we cast in the parts, and we also make new costumes,” Swope said.
Swope opened Centre Dance 23 years ago on North Atherton Street, before moving it to Sandy Drive. The studio is attended by dancers of a variety of ages and skill levels, approximately 200 of whom will perform in “The Nutcracker.” Ballet students and members of AVID Dance Productions, the studio’s competition team, will be featured in the show.
For Swope, one of the most rewarding things about the experience is watching some of the same dancers grow up and aspire to take on new roles in production.
“It’s fun to see their progress,” Swope said. “I’ll look back at an old video and see a dancer playing one of the baby angels who now plays one of the lead roles. I think that’s fun for the parents, too. They come year after year, and they’re very supportive.”