Newcastle dancers shine in Nutcracker performance

December 1, 2011

By Christina Lords

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Cornerstone Studio offers fresh take on an old classic

As Amie Tabiando dances around the room, she clutches a plush Eeyore stuffed animal lovingly to her chest.

Her smile widens as she reveals him to a cluster of smaller children surrounding her lithe frame. Tabiando lifts Eeyore up and down, twirling and sashaying with him wherever she goes.

Emma Mason, of Newcastle, strikes a pose as the part of Fritz during the 2010 Cornerstone Studio production of ‘The Nutcracker’ at Bellevue College. Contributed

But soon she’ll trade that Eeyore in for a more well-known prop for one of the holiday season’s most beloved ballets — a Nutcracker.

She, along with more than 60 of the Cornerstone Studio’s 200 students, can be found at the Newport Hills studio every Saturday and Sunday gearing up for their annual holiday performance, putting in long hours on top of their regularly scheduled dance classes.

Lea Lo, studio owner and artistic director, said the studio’s performance of the ballet is an affordable, family-friendly activity with something for every audience.

“People that come to this get that traditional underlying story, but they also get to experience new aspects as well,” Lo said. “It’s a traditional holiday story, but we try to give it a new spin.”

The performances will take place at 1 and 6 p.m. Dec. 17 and Dec. 18 at Bellevue College’s Carlson Theatre. Tickets are $20 in advance or $22 at the door.

About 25 of those performing call Newcastle home.

The studio’s Nutcracker performances have evolved from excerpts of the ballet to full-fledged performances with elaborate sets, backdrops and costumes, Lo said.

Each year the performance is tweaked — this year’s ballet includes a section of breakdancing — so audience members can view a fresh twist on the old classic, she said.

Shelby Toy, who plays one of the Little Chinese roles, said she enjoys the costuming of the performance most.

The 6-year-old from Newcastle said she was a Ginger Snap last year and hopes to someday take on roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Emma Mason, 11, said that each year dancers are exposed to new steps and performance opportunities through the annual show.

“We’ve all worked really hard on this,” she said, “and I think the audience will really appreciate the practice we’ve put into it.”

Each of the studio’s four performances sold out last year.


What to know

  • Buy tickets at by searching for “The Nutcracker” under the search criteria bar on the left side of the screen.
  • Learn more about the performance at the studio’s website at
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