Okanagan production of The Nutcracker inspires Christmas spirit in the valley

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The Nutcracker Ballet inspires Christmas spirit
WATCH: Attending the Nutcracker Ballet has become a time-honoured tradition every holiday season. Sydney Morton attended a rehearsal with dancers of Kelowna's Mission Dance Company to give us a sneak peek at the holiday classic. – Dec 6, 2023

The dancers of Mission Dance Centre and Company are busy preparing to stage their annual production of The Nutcracker.

“I have been doing The Nutcracker since I was probably four years old,” said Annette Bakala, the production’s ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’.

“It’s my favourite thing during the holidays to do Nutcracker, if I am lucky enough to do Nutcracker I feel like Christmas is complete for me.”

To bring the Christmas classic to life and spread holiday cheer throughout the Okanagan Valley in six performances, in five days the cast has been split into two.

“So me and Annette are both sharing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy this year which is pretty exciting and it’s quite a special opportunity to go back and forth between a role like the Sugar Plum Fairy and also some of the other roles in the production like Chocolate, Coffee, Dew Drop, Mouse Queen,” said Olivia Latendresse, the production’s other ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’.

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Dante Grootjes is taking on the role of three characters: ‘Drosselmeyer,’ ‘the Nutcracker’ and ‘The Prince’.

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“I start off the ballet as the uncle (Drosselmeyer), so he is very mischievous almost like a wizard, then immediately I change into the Nutcracker which is very a very soldier-like, very stiff doll and then over time he kind of loosens up as Clara gets closer and closer to breaking his curse then all the sudden he transforms into this swirl of flowers controlled by sugar plum into ‘the Prince’,” said Grootjes.

Sharing the role of ‘Clara’ is Jiseon Lee and Marianne Gouws.

“I think that she is so magical,” said Gouws. “(She’s) so full of wonder and excitement, it will be just such a fun role to play.”

To help families continue the time-honoured tradition of attending The Nutcracker Ballet during the holidays, Tanya Vadurova, founder of the Mission Dance Centre and Company, has made the ticket prices more approachable for families.

“It is tough times for all of us still and we wanted to make sure that every single family that wanted to come to The Nutcracker would be able to come and afford this,” said Vadurova.

“We have very reduced tickets for children 12 and younger. It is very family-friendly but also very magical for romantics and adults who love to see live entertainment and dress up.”

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Experience the holiday tradition for yourself in Penticton Dec. 15 at the Cleland Community Theatre,  in Kelowna at the Rotary Centre for the Arts Dec. 20-22 and in Vernon, Dec. 23 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre.

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