The 13th edition of The Nutcracker ballet by Expressions, the Dance Company, on Dec. 18 and 19 at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge will be a family affair in more ways than one.
Most obvious is that the perennial favorite, with its exciting story, colorful costumes and beautiful music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, is one that all members of the family can enjoy.
Less apparent is that the large cast of characters includes members of entire families.
"Our new father will be Tim Holt," said Gillian Davis, founder of Expressions and director of the show. "His whole family is taking part as (they have) for many past years." That includes wife, Linda, and children Moriah, Teresa, Cierra and Angelina.
Three members of the McLane family are in the show: mom Jana, son Chase and daughter Zoe. And two are from the McClure family: mom Barbara and daughter Madison, who is doing her 13th Nutcracker with Expressions.
The story centers on Clara, danced by 12-year-old Cassidy McKenna, who was one of three dancers who portrayed Clara in the 2008 production.
Clara is given a toy nutcracker by her Great Uncle Drosselmeyer (Eriberto Jimenez) during a big family gathering, but her jealous brother Fritz (Chase McLane) grabs it and breaks it. After everyone has gone to sleep, Clara creeps downstairs to check on her new toy.
What she sees is the frightening Rat King (Moriah Holt), who is on the attack. Just as she thinks all is lost, the Nutcracker, now a Prince (Jimenez), defends her, defeats the Rat King, and flies away with her to a magic fairy land.
There, Clara and her Prince are entertained by the Sugar Plum Fairy (Bella Calafiura) and dancers from Spain, China and Arabia, as well as dancing Candy Canes, Snowflakes and Flowers, and Mother Ginger (Jana McLane) and her tiny polichinelles.
A special treat is a dance by the Dew Drop Fairy, played by Abbey Kaye, a student at the International Ballet Academy in Weston, which is, for the first time, bringing several members to perform with the Expressions dance troupe.
Ms. Calafiura was one of 30 dancers chosen to participate in the Genee International Ballet Competition in Singapore in September, the first dancer from Florida to be invited. In March, Ms. Calafiura won the highest mark possible in the Royal Academy of Dance's Advanced 2 Ballet Examination; and she has been chosen for summer intensive workshops in Orlando, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Long Beach, Calif.
"She's at the highest level that a pre-professional can reach," Ms. Davis said of her pupil of 12 years.
This story includes information from stories by Michele Miller and David Rice.