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Nut Season

Variations on The Nutcracker and other dance for the holidays



If the weather outside is frightful, don't fret; there are plenty of reasons to be inside -- and as always, the holidays bring dance.

New World Ballet begins this holiday dance season with an evening of classical ballet in its studio over Thanksgiving weekend, and ends it with a formal gala event on New Year's Eve at the Arcata Community Center. And there are plenty of other concert choices in between. Not the least bit retired, Nadine Cole, founder of NWB, joins artistic director Victor Temple in presenting Les Sylphides in its original 1909 form, along with the third act of The Sleeping Beauty Ballet, Aurora's Wedding. Look for the NWB lovelies Shelly Vollmers, Hannah Farrell and Rose Gralow along with other principal roles danced by guest artists from San Francisco. Antonia Forsyth of the San Diego Ballet, who grew up dancing at NWB with Cole, is coming home to dance the role of the Lilac Fairy. And Temple, a dynamo in tights, is dancing, too.

In a refreshing turn, Dell'Arte has taken The Nutcracker and given it a comic counterpart, The Nutcaper. Unlike dance master Mark Morris' The Hard Nut, which made good fun of the Christmas staple, The Nutcaper isn't a really spoof, but claims to tell the true story of what happened after the battle between the mice and the Nutcracker on that famous night. Dell'Arte dance instructor Laura Munoz describes The Nutcaper as "a physical theater piece, a comedy, with spoken word, music and dance." The accompaniment of Tchaikovsky's familiar "Nutcracker Suite" is about all the tradition you'll get here. Read more about it in Bill Kowinski's piece elsewhere in this paper.

With yet another take on Tchaikovsky and the original ballet, Shoshanna's Nutcracker: Arabian Nights!, features members of her Ya Habibi Dance Company, the Humboldt Rockers Break Dancers, legions of her students of all ages, and guest artists from the Middle Eastern and tribal dance communities. Using the tried and true score as a foundation, all the familiar sections have been reimagined to fulfill an Arabian theme: new versions of "Spanish Hot Chocolate," a Persian "Waltz of the Flowers," a Turkish Roman Gypsy dance, sword-balancing and, of course "Arabian Coffee" replete with yards of veils and billowing silk.

The Rat Queen (Erika Shepherd) and her Corps de Raqs will be dancing in the dark Tribal Belly Dance style as they battle the Nutcracker Prince (Brian Smith), who will lead his soldiers in Tahtee, a traditional Egyptian men's stick-fighting dance. This Sugar Plum Fairy lives in the Land of Turkish Delights and hangs out with a Sultana of the Desert Oasis. Clara (Ciara Cheli-Colando), better prepare herself for a wild ride -- maybe a magic carpet ride.

Erin Fernandez has a new last name (and a new husband to go along with it), and a new studio name, too. Dance Class with Erin Fernandez is now Trillium Dance Studios. You can still catch her holiday extravaganza, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, which is on its way to reaching classic status, at the Van Duzer. Her original story of a Pirate King who steals the star off the top of the glittering tree, only to be coaxed into doing the right thing by the Ballerina Doll ... ah. It really is a sweet tale and filled with over 200 dancers of all ages and the talented faculty who make up Trillium Dance Company, including Lindsay Bond, Kyle Ryan and Julie Ryman-Hayes.

North Coast Dance, the resident company of the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts, is celebrating its 10th anniversary Nutcracker with five performances this year. Artistic director Danny Furlong has a knack for putting his dancers into the customary principal roles and pulling creative, emotive performances out of them. Emily Claypool is the Sugar Plum Fairy; Sam Campbell, her Caviler. Guest artist Ikolo Griffin, who we're stoked to see again after his run as a young Romano Gabriel last spring, will partner Snow Queen Iris Van Atta and Sarah Bukowski in "Arabian Coffee" (often my favorite part of Furlong's show). This is the chestnut, the old dog, the real deal: Furlong's staging of the childhood classic. To celebrate 10 years, closing night tickets are only $10 and you get a chance to schmooze with the cast at the after party in their special events tent. (Très chic, oui?)

Just when you thought it was over, you've eaten all of the pie and found a way to pawn off that last piece of fruitcake (and gone to all those dance concerts), there's yet another holiday to celebrate: New Year's Eve. What to do? New World Ballet has it covered with A Winter Red Carpet Gala Event. Yes, red carpet, so lose the Birkenstocks, put on your finery and fancy up for an elegant evening out, Humboldtians. The Arcata Community Center will be transformed for the white-linen affair. Limos are available, dinner, drinks, a performance by members of the Richmond Ballet (who were stunning in Temple's Humboldt Cinderella last spring), performing the elite repertory of George Balanchine, plus NWB dancers in a contemporary piece choreographed by Temple. If that isn't enough, after the show, the pointe shoes and tights come off for a dance party with live music to usher in -- yikes -- 2012.


New World Ballet presents classical repertory. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 25 and 26, 7 p.m. with a Sunday matinee Nov. 27 at 2 p.m. NWB Studio in the Old Creamery Building, 824 L St., Arcata. $15  adults, $8 kids. 822-4947,

Dell'Arte Company's The Nutcaper. Nov. 25- Dec.18. For entire schedule of performances, including free shows, (707) 668-5663 and

Nutcracker: Arabian Nights! Saturday, Dec. 10, 6 p.m. Sunday matinee Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets $8, $5 children, Redwood Raks, 824 L Street, Old Creamery Building, Arcata.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Trillium Dance Studio, Saturday, Dec. 10, 6 p.m. and Sunday matinee Dec. 11 2 p.m. Van Duzer Theater on the HSU campus in Arcata. 822-8408 or 498-7831,

The Nutcracker. North Coast Dance, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16 and 17, 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, matinee 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, 4 p.m. Tickets $20, $12 children 12 and under. Tuesday, Dec. 20, 7 p.m. with Closing Night Wrap Party catered by Avalon, $10 tickets, the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts, 412 G St., Eureka, 442-1956

New Year's Eve Gala Event hosted by New World Ballet. Arcata Community Center, 31 Community Park Way. 822-4947,



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