Surrey-area fans of Royal City Youth Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” will have to travel over a bridge to see this year’s show – or swim, go by boat, fly, whatever works.
The company typically stages a run of pre-Christmas productions at Surrey Arts Centre as part of a regional tour, but not this year.
Instead, four “Nutcracker” shows will be staged Dec. 18-19 at Massey Theatre in New Westminster, 32 years after the company’s first such production, and following a one-year pause.
“We are very excited to be back on stage again performing, and have needed to adopt a much smaller set of performances given all the uncertainty that was in place during the early days of planning our 2021,” Alexander Schwartz, a Royal City board member, told the Now-Leader. “(We) expect to be back with a full season in 2022.”
In 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Royal City’s 30th-anniversary tour of “The Nutcracker” included four performances at Surrey Arts Centre’s Main Stage. The cast featured more than 70 dancers from across Metro Vancouver, including 18 from Surrey and 13 from Langley.
Again under the artistic direction of Camilla Fishwick-Kellogg, this year’s cast features more than 50 dancers, including 15 from Surrey and area dance studios (Cameron Dance, Central Dance Academy, Dance Xpressions, DanceWest Surrey, Deas Island Dance, Essence of Dance, Panorama, Spiral Dance and Studio One).
“Many are in their first year with us and have been cast in roles from our youngest Party Baby right through to our principal and solo roles,” Schwartz noted.
Auditions were held in September at New West’s Royal Principal Ballet Academy.
Since 1989, the New Westminster-based Royal City dance company has worked to bridge the gap between dance schools and professional companies.
Last December, Royal City’s livestream broadcast of “The Nutcracker” (pitched as “the best of our last three seasons” on Facebook) included a memorial for company co-founder and president Donna Fishwick, who died in June 2020. Her passing “was sudden and unexpected, which has left all of us in a state of shock and sadness,” the company posted in memory.
“The Nutcracker” is set on Christmas Eve 1890 at Clara’s home, where her parents are hosting a party. After Clara’s grand-uncle, Herr Drosselmeyer, presents her with an enchanted Nutcracker toy soldier and the party ends, Clara falls asleep – and dreams.
The audience is transported, along with Clara, to a fantastic place full of magical soldiers, dueling mice, a Sugar Plum Fairy, the swirling dancing Snowflakes with their Snow King & Queen, a delicate Rose with her waltzing Rose Buds & Flowers and more, in a story set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.