Every year for the past 19 years, the Columbia Gorge Dance Academy has performed “Scenes from The Nutcracker” as a benefit for FISH Food Bank and Providence Memorial Hospital. This year is the final nutcracker that will be performed by CGDA. Ballet instructors Theresa Mason and Nancy Clement run the Nutcracker every year, but the project is led by Clement. As reported by Hood River News last year, Clement comments on the final Nutcracker: “I have been blessed and honored to put on and see this production grow over the years, but I have come to the decision that it’s time for Nutcracker to end and something else to begin.”
Many current dancers have participated in the Nutcracker for multiple years. Isabelle Lira, who has been doing the Nutcracker at CGDA for three years, and who originally trained at Classical Ballet Academy in Portland, comments on her favorite part of The Nutcracker: “every role requires you to use a different personality and characteristic and you can stylize it in a different way for each dance.” Junior Ashley Hendricks, who has been in The Nutcracker since she was three, says, “it’s really fun to be with your friends and work together to create this really awesome show.” This is Hendricks’ 14th Nutcracker.
On favorite memories, Lira says, “in Mirliton, before we start, everyone makes eye contact and you get a little rush of adrenaline, and that’s one of my favorite memories.” Hendricks says that she is sad about the Nutcracker ending, but “last one best one.” Lira says, “I was pretty disappointed because I wouldn’t get the chance to have the leading roles but it’s definitely had a good run, and has been appreciated. I think it’s ending on a good note.”
While The Nutcracker is ending, it will be replaced with a holiday show: “they’re going to do a Christmas show with a mix of dance styles,” says Hendricks. When asked if they would recommend the Nutcracker to people who don’t usually go to ballets, the girls said that they would recommend it because the music isn’t super classical, the story is entertaining, and the age ranges keeps it interesting.
The Nutcracker is Saturday December 10th at 1 and 4pm at the Hood River Middle School, and Sunday at 2pm. This year is the first year that tickets are required to get into the show. (In years past it has just been cans or donations for FISH food bank.) Tickets are five dollars and can be found at Waucoma Bookstore and Columbia Gorge Dance Academy. If you can’t go see The Nutcracker, a film maker is making a movie out of the Nutcracker and content from that can be found at http://www.thelastnutcracker.com/ .