Kirkwood Academy presents the classic Christmas ballet The Nutcracker this Friday (Nov. 27) and Saturday at the Port Theatre.

Kirkwood Academy presents the classic Christmas ballet The Nutcracker this Friday (Nov. 27) and Saturday at the Port Theatre.

Nutcracker tale comes to life

NANAIMO - Kirkwood Productions presents The Nutcracker at the Nanaimo Port Theatre Friday and Saturday (Nov. 27-28).

A family, surrounded by loving friends, gathers in a parlour to decorate the Christmas tree.

After the tree is decked out in shining ornaments, the children arrive, presents are given and the party begins. During the party, Clara and Fritz’s godfather presents them with a wooden nutcracker.

After the revellers go to sleep, Clara returns to check on the wooden nutcracker and is swept into a magical world of forests, sweets and fairies.

The classical tale of The Nutcracker comes to life on the Nanaimo Port Theatre’s stage during Kirkwood Dance Academy’s annual production of the ballet.

The character of Clara is played by four different dancers: Madison Hovey, Abby Dishkin, Lauryn Rogers and Sophie Philip.

“It’s a really good way to start your Christmas season,” said Rogers.

Philip said it’s “cool for young kids to see the show and be inspired” because they see kids their own age performing.

The Nutcracker production is for all ages.

Hovey said the show is a “good family experience” people can share during the holidays and everyone worked hard to ensure it’s the highest calibre of entertainment for audience members.

The dancers practised 30 to 40 hours a week, working on dance techniques and acting cues. Becoming Clara was a challenging task.

“She has a different connection with each of the different characters,” said Dishkin. “It was hard to find the character of Clara at first. She is very innocent and she has a lot of imagination.”

The role of Clara is demanding. She is on stage for the majority of the production.

Philip said the dancers have had to adjust because usually they do solo or group performances.

Each of the dancers loved the chance to learn the pas de deux, a partner dance with the nutcracker, played by guest performer Matthew Cluff from Ballet Victoria.

For nine-year-old Parker Long the chance to work with a professional male dancer was a great experience.

Kirkwood Academy’s production of The Nutcracker features 160 dancers, 20 of which are from Kirkwood’s pre-professional dance day program, led by Chantelle Norris, the senior ballet director. Other members of the academy including Carolé Martyn, Bev Martyn and Sam Madge have also been busy putting the production together for the holidays. The scenery was created by Lindsay Martyn.

The ballet shows Friday (Nov. 27) at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $26, $21 for students and $15 for children under 12. For tickets, please call 250-754-8550 or go to