Cornerstone Studio’s ‘The Nutcracker’ is its biggest ever
December 10, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
The classic holiday ballet “The Nutcracker” is infamous for its Tchaikovsky-scored elegance and timeless story.
The show is performed in studios across the country, punctuated by extravagant sets, glamorous costumes and opulent choreography.
Cornerstone Studio’s production includes all of the grace and style of the original, but it is also likely the only one that mixes in a break-dancing scene or two.
“We want to keep our show traditionally ballet, but to add sort of an element in modernism in there, it definitely excites the crowd,” said Lea Lo, owner and artistic director of Cornerstone.
The Newport Hills studio began rehearsal in early November for what is expected to be its biggest and best production to date, Lo said.
The cast of 70 dancers, ranging in age from 5 to adult, represents the most performers the studio has ever had in its “Nutcracker” spectacle.
Newcastle resident Maya Paletta, 11, has been part of the studio’s annual production since she was in first grade at Hazelwood Elementary School.
Now a sixth-grader at McKnight Middle School, Paletta, who is cast in the play’s angel corps and rat pack, said she always enjoys the first day of rehearsals and seeing what’s changed from previous shows.
“This year, they’ve added in a lot of different parts,” she said. “It’s really different, which I like.”
With the expanded cast, Lo said they had to create a few new parts. The group dances will also be larger and most of the scenes will include more performers onstage.
“Our production is sort of a spin on the traditional story,” Lo said. “We do have characters that haven’t existed in terms of what Tchaikovsky’s original music was for.”
Those characters include a ribbon candy dancer in the production’s angel scene, and a break-dancing duo that dances to the traditionally Russian music in the sweet scene.
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Newcastle resident Keila Mohan, 11, a member of the show’s expanded angel corps, said she is a fan of the different dance styles the studio incorporates in its production.
“It’s a good performance to watch during Christmas with your family and friends because there are a lot of different dances, and it’s cool to see the different techniques we work on at Cornerstone,” she said.
The show’s break-dancing scenes, and action-packed battle scene, set it apart from other local productions, Lo said.
“The kids that tend to get bored at the traditional ‘Nutcrackers,’ I think they’re more engaged at ours,” she said. “We try to appeal to the masses.”
This year’s show will take place in Bellevue High School’s brand new, state-of-the-art performing arts center.
The auditorium hosts 450 spectators, Lo said. With four performances scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 21-22, about 1,800 people will see the show.
“What we can do with the effects of the theater, I think, should produce a really high-quality show,” Lo said.
Tickets are a bit cheaper than last year’s $20. The cost is $18 for those who purchase online prior to the performances. Lo said attendees should buy early, since shows often sell out quickly.
If there are any available seats the day of a performance, tickets will be sold for $20 at the door.
“It’s definitely a good, affordable option for a family event during the holidays,” Lo said, “but tickets do go fast.”