SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Join Clara on her magical journey to the Kingdom of the Sweets in the Dance Factory’s production of “The Nutcracker.” This year marks the 30th anniversary of the family-friendly holiday tradition, which annually delights upwards of 800 attendees. The full-length, professionally costumed spectacle will be staged at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt., Saturday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 12 at 2 p.m.
“It’s been wonderful to have been a part of ‘The Nutcracker’ since its start,” says Dance Factory owner Kate DeRosia, who has seen the show grow in scope and complexity. The production now has so many costumes that a climate-controlled room was built in the studio’s basement to house them all. The numerous custom set pieces include a growing Christmas tree, a life-sized sleigh, and an ornate bespoke throne, and require a dedicated set crew – including DeRosia and husband Mark.
When asked about her backstage duties, DeRosia laughs and says, “We do anything and everything that needs to be done!” She adds, “Seeing the joy on the dancers’ faces, their parents, friends, and extended family, makes every difficulty worthwhile.”
“The Nutcracker” has given hundreds of local dancers an invaluable pre-professional performance experience, including the opportunity to dance soloist roles which many dance schools outsource to professionals. This year Madailein Wolf, 16, of Springfield, and Ayla Price, 16, of Plymouth will alternate the roles of Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy, while Millie Allen, 13, of Springfield will be featured as Clara. Ben Haseltine, a Chester native currently attending the University of Hartford, returns to perform as the Nutcracker Prince. The principals anchor a cast of youth and adult dancers from southern Vermont and New Hampshire. The show is directed by Ashley Hensel-Browning, with choreography by Hensel-Browning and Dance Factory founder, Susan Hagan.
While “The Nutcracker” functions in part as a showcase for Dance Factory students, it was designed as a way to bring accessible arts to the community, a tradition that owner DeRosia enthusiastically continues. To lower the financial burden of attendance, ticket prices are kept low. For those who cannot attend in person, performances are recorded and broadcast by SAPA TV. Through its history, in excess of $20,000 in proceeds have been donated to local arts initiatives, including the Springfield High School Drama Club.
Advance tickets are strongly encouraged this year and can be purchased at Tina’s Hallmark and Woodbury Florist in Springfield, and in Chester at Sage Jewelry and Gifts, and Blair Books. Online tickets are available through Eventbrite: www.tinyurl.com/d6nx5xyd.
Limited tickets will be available at the door. Please note that masks will be required of all audience members as per district Covid regulations.
Support for “The Nutcracker” has been generously provided by the following local sponsors: Bean Group, Bibens Ace Hardware, Denise E. Photography, Edgar May Health & Recreation Center, Edward Jones, Gurney Brothers Construction, Halladay’s Flowers and Gifts, HB Energy Solutions, Heritage Deli and Bakery, Inn at Weathersfield, National Field Representatives, Six Loose Ladies, Smokeshire Design, Springfield Co-op, Style House Salon, Tina’s Hallmark, and Willow Farms.
The Dance Factory was founded in 1984 and offers quality instruction in ballet, pointe, acro, modern, hip hop, jazz, tap, yoga, and preschool dance. Located on Main Street in Springfield, the remodeled space boasts two studios with high ceilings and professional dance floors. Winter session begins Nov. 29, and all enrolled students are eligible to dance in the spring recital. Late registration is being accepted for some classes. For more information, please visit www.DanceFactoryVT.com.