Weekender

Centre Dance puts its spin on ‘The Nutcracker’

Centre Dance ballet students will perform traditional dance as well as Chinese, Russian, Spanish and African numbers.
Centre Dance ballet students will perform traditional dance as well as Chinese, Russian, Spanish and African numbers. Photo provided

The State Theatre and Centre Dance will present a version of the classic holiday ballet “The Nutcracker,” with AVID Dance Productions-featured senior company members and all the Centre Dance ballet students. The performance will showcase a variety of dance styles, including African dance.

Centre Dance is a diversified studio catering to each level, which are separated according to interest, age and commitment. In the nine months of its season, Centre Dance focuses on basic dance technique, with an emphasis on individual correction, the development of refined motor skills and performance qualities.

“We at Centre Dance believe in the recreational as well as the serious dancer,” Director Nicole Swope said. “We are proud to offer a diverse range of classes taught by a young and exciting faculty who is always learning the newest styles and techniques emerging in the dance world.”

Centre Dance will use the traditional themes of “The Nutcracker:” Party Scene, Battle Scene, Waltz of the Snowflakes and The Land of Sweets in Act 2. But within that, they take some liberties as well.

“We always try to come up with colorful characters and fun antics in the opening scene as well as the prepping of the parlor and Party Scene,” Swope said. “Many companies feature adult dancers in the Party Scene as parents. I prefer to get as many of our children and teen age dancers in the space we have at The State Theatre.”

They also sprinkle some tap dance into the Party Scene. For the Battle Scene this year, Swope is excited to premier their Rockette-style mice and soldiers.

“We were lucky enough to gain the new head coach of the Lionettes on faculty who has partnered up with me to create this fun scene full of high kicks and pinwheels,” she said.

Each year the “The Nutcracker” uses more than 15 choreographers, which is necessary for choreographing a performance that utilizes a diverse number of dance styles. In Act 2, they add an African dance number each year, in addition to all of the traditional, including Chinese, Russian and Spanish.

Even after doing “The Nutcracker” for 24 years, Swope said it is still so much work.

“Choosing the parts and choreographers, selecting all of the costumes, getting all of the correct versions of the music together, maintaining and loading the props in and out of the theater, coordinating all of the dressing room volunteers and protocol, and rehearsing the show is a huge undertaking,” she said. “Luckily, we are in the best place out there for us. The State Theatre treats us so well. We all work together so harmoniously, I feel.”

With such a variety of dancers, Swope feels that this show is entertaining for all ages and tastes of dance.

I hope the audience sees that everyone can express him or herself through this beautiful art form.

Nicole Swope, Centre Dance director

“I hope the audience sees that everyone can express him or herself through this beautiful art form,” she said. “They really are all so unique.”

“The kids’ excitement and energy always makes doing this show worth it for me,” Swope said. “It is a fun atmosphere around the studio right now. I hope the audience is affected by the contagious enthusiasm on stage of these talented, dedicated and creative artists, and that they leave with an energized spirit of the holidays.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: Centre Dance’s “Nutcracker”
  • When: 7 p.m. Dec. 11-12 and 3 p.m. Dec. 13
  • Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
  • Info: www.thestatetheatre .org
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