Updated ‘Nutcracker’ features new choreography by Zachary Hench and Julie Diana

Updated 'Nutcracker' features new choreography by Zachary Hench and Julie Diana

Juneau Dance Theatre will present its annual production of “The Nutcracker” at the Juneau Douglas High School Auditorium Dec. 4-6. This year, the ballet has been completely re-imagined, and features all new choreography, new costumes and sets, and additional roles for children. The cast of more than 60 dancers includes Artistic Director Zachary Hench as “Herr Drosselmeyer.”

The story of “The Nutcracker” follows the journey of young Clara, played this year by Elin Antaya, who receives a nutcracker as a gift at her family’s Christmas Eve party. Later that night, her nutcracker magically transforms into a handsome prince, who leads her through an enchanted forest and on to the Land of Sweets.

In addition to Antaya and Hench, this year’s dancers include Roxy Symons as the Mouse King, Marissa Truitt as Snow Queen and Brimley Olliff as the Sugar Plum Fairy,

“‘The Nutcracker’ is one of my favorite holiday traditions,” Hench said in a release. “From the very beginning of the ballet, it’s like being in a dream.”

Hench and Diana previously danced as principle dancers with the San Francisco Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet before moving to Juneau to take over JDT in August. “The Nutcracker” represents the organization’s biggest public performance of the year, and this year also offers the public an opportunity to see Hench and Diana’s work in action.

JDT’s new production will showcase more than 80 costumes, including new creations such as a dancing Bear, Lambs, and tiny Cheese wedges to be worn by the youngest cast members. Surprise sets and props are sprinkled throughout each scene.

“The Nutcracker” includes members of the newly formed Juneau Dance Company, and over 50 JDT students and adult volunteers. The four-performance run will feature two casts, showcasing the talent within the school.

On Dec. 4, prior to the start of public show times, JDT will present a free outreach performance for more than 900 students in the Juneau School District.

“‘The Nutcracker’ is such a magical experience,” Executive Director Julie Diana said in a release, “it’s a wonderful way to introduce dance to everyone in the community.”

Performances of The Nutcracker will take place at the Juneau Douglas High School Auditorium at the following times:

Friday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 5 at 2 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 6 at 2 p.m.

The performance is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes including one intermission.

Audience members who purchase tickets to the 2 p.m. performance of “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, Dec. 5, can also attend a special, ticketed event called the “Land of Sweets Tea and Tour” beginning at 1 p.m. For $10 per person, attendees enjoy a VIP line upon admission and priority seating for the performance. They will make festive crafts and listen to the story of “The Nutcracker,” enjoy tea and treats, and even step onstage for a photo opportunity on The Nutcracker throne or in the new walnut boat. Cast members will be there to greet, pose for pictures, and answer questions.

For more information, visit www.juneaudance.org/events or call 463-5327.

The mission of Juneau Dance Theatre is to nurture self-discipline, confidence, mental and physical fitness and creativity through professional dance instruction and performance opportunities; to foster an appreciation of the art of dance in the Juneau community; and to develop artistic creativity and skills in both visual and performing arts through its annual Fine Arts Camp.


To read Mary Catharine Martin’s interview with JDT leaders Hench and Diana, visit http://juneauempire.com/art/2015-09-02/fairy-tale-romance-partnership-juneau-dance-teachers


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