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Arts Blast: 'Nutcracker' ballet soldiers on in Mesa this weekend

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A soldier's work is serious business. And lots of soldiers are dancing in Ballet Etudes' four performances this weekend of The Nutcracker at Mesa Arts Center. Yet, this classic show is one of those holiday traditions that make memories and smiles. Last night at dress rehearsal, five soldiers among the company's young dancers (and a mechanical doll, for good measure) shared some insights about the funny, serious moments that happen at the ballet.

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To those first time Nutcracker-goers, a little background is in order. Throughout most of the ballet, the dancers enact a Christmas Eve dream sequence that is beautifully fluid and is full of gorgeous scenery and special technical effects. It's also light-heartedly nightmarish in spots. The bad news is, it doesn't end well for most of the soldiers. The good news is what the soldiers last night marched out to divulge about Ballet Etudes' special brand of Nutcracker.

1. It snows on stage. Mechanical Soldier Brooklyn Brown, as one of many Arizonans who don't get much snowflake exposure, shared that it's her favorite scene in the show. She waits nightly for the glittering silent flakes to gently descend. Never mind that a few of the other soldiers chimed in that "really" it's instant potato flakes that drop out of the theatre sky. And P.S., they're itchy.

2. Shouting happens at the ballet. As the show progresses, don't get too lulled into the dreamy, flowing fairies as they leap gracefully and pirouette about. Some of the surprise dancing is going to get loud.

3. Watch closely. Though the youngest soldiers who duel with the evil Rat King and his mouse minions never crack a smile onstage, it doesn't mean they're not noticing funny mishaps. Now and then a dead soldier gets dropped.

Like most Christmas traditions, The Nutcracker promises warm smiles and happy toe-curls by the packageful. To the naked eye, the soldiers who patrol this show are all salutes and sharp, regimented movement. But these dancers deliver a liveliness and receive an energy each performance that make memories. Seriously.

because art IS a BLAST
because sometimes a quick heads up makes you want to head out
Gotta BLAST!


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