The Nutcracker Comes to Dawson

The Nutcracker is coming to Dawson City just in time for the holidays. The Northern Lights School of Dance in Whitehorse is staging the traditional ballet on Saturday, December 6, at Diamond Tooth Gerties.

Of the five years that the production has been coming to Dawson, the last three have brought a twist to the stage. In 2010, Rebecca Reynolds, who usually comes up a week ahead to set up and train a few local kids for the show, found herself in a difficult situation.

“The bus with the 50 young Whitehorse dancers who formed most of the show at that time, couldn’t come up because it was too cold,” she says. “I didn’t want to go home quite yet, so I decided to focus on finding all local kids for the show.” This brought about a big change to the production.

“Dawsonites were excited to watch their kids in the show, so for the last two years, we’ve decided to make the cast almost entirely local.”

Eight volunteers are needed to help with rehearsal management, snacks, costuming, and backstage co-ordination. Kids between ages six and 15 years, with no dance experience necessary, as well as a few adults, are also recruited.  

“We’ll take three to four adult couples and as many kids as possible and fit them in,” says Reynolds.

The only dancers from Whitehorse are three senior dancers that fly up just before the production starts.

Reynolds says that staging the ballet in its entirety would be too long and complex for the amount of time they have. Therefore, what the audience sees on stage is actually an abridged version of the Nutcracker. 

“The first half is used as synopsis to explain what has happened,” she says of the party and battle scenes. “It includes short vignettes that tell the part of the story we didn’t see.”

The second half is a collage of dances. Along with the abbreviated script, the music has also been edited to fit the shortened version.

The set has also been adapted. The stage at Diamond Tooth Gerties is a quarter the size of Yukon Arts Centre stage in Whitehorse.

“I bring up a few things to make the stage festive, but it’s not the full set,” says Reynolds.

Even though this is her 25th year of involvement with the Nutcracker, she is far from bored.

“I’ve been involved in all facets of the show, from being a mouse at 10 years old, to organizing choreography, stage managing, and all areas of production.” 

According to her it’s never repetitious when you’re involved in different areas.

“It’s always interesting and a new experience.”

After the show finishes in Dawson, Reynolds and artistic director Kate Fitzgerald, who usually flies up just prior to the show, will return to Whitehorse to get ready for several performances at the Yukon Arts Centre. 

Once the performances are over, sets are packed away and everyone will take a break for six months, after which, meetings will once again be held in order to plan next year’s show.

To sign up for the Dawson production, please contact KIAC at 993-5005 or email Robyn at [email protected]

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