For the third year in a row Alexandria dancers of all ages will unite to perform a modernized version of the classic winter ballet, The Nutcracker, at West Potomac High School this weekend. This year’s four performances boast new choreography and costumes, as well as a female Nutcracker and female Rat King, in addition to the unique variety of dance styles throughout the show.
"It’s not just a ballet performance. It’s ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop and gymnastics all together in one show. Not many people want to see a ballet, so many don’t even know the story of the Nutcracker," West Potomac Dance Acedemy’s Courtney Betzel said. "By doing our own West Po version that involves different dances, more types of people are able to see and enjoy the story. It especially makes it interesting to younger audience members who couldn’t sit through a ballet."
With auditions starting in June, choreographers Betzel, Adrienne Magnunson and Gennifer Difilippo got an early start on plans for the performance, but the months leading up to this weekend’s show was filled with non-stop casting, choreography and costumes. The original idea for the modernized show came from Betzel and Difilippo's interest in partnering up for a local performance of The Nutcraker, and they quickly realized the appeal a mixed dance show would have in the community.
"The show has changed so much, with new dances and costumes. This year girls are even playing the Nutcracker and The Rat King. I’ve never seen that done before," senior Katherine Canary said. "Last year I was Clara, and now I’m the Nutcracker. So it’s cool to have done both roles and learned the different dances."
According to Betzel, the over two dozen West Potomac dancers come from a wide variety of places; they include a football player, two basketball players, several band and drama students, and even an alum who returned from college to participate. Other notable performers include a grandmother with her four grandchildren, children as young as 3 years old and parents of some of the dancers.
"It has really been a cool experience. We've been doing this for three years and have seen how the show has progressed over the years," senior Rachelle Husband said. "We all get to have different roles, and we get to learn all new dances and wear different costumes. It’s a really great experience and I’m sad that it’s going to be over soon."
Students from all over Alexandria will be participating in the show, including students from West Potomac High School, Carl Sandburg Middle School, Burgundy Farms School, Browne Academy, St. Luke’s Day School, St. Louis Catholic School, St. Mary’s, Aldersgate Preschool, Hollin Meadows Math and Science Elementary, Fort Hunt Elementary, Waynewood Elementary, Belle View Elementary, Stratford Landing Elementary and Washington Mill Elementary.
Performances are Thursday, Dec. 1, at 5 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 2, at 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 3, at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at West Potomac High School Auditorium, 6500 Quander Road, Alexandria. Advanced tickets are no longer on sale, but they can be purchased at the door before each performance.