Carmel, CA, June 14, 2017 — For the first time in its history, Dance Kids will kick off its Silver Anniversary Celebration Year with ‘Nutcracker: A Monterey Peninsula Tradition’ in December at Carmel's Sunset Center, and feature, along with the cast of the ballet, a complete 39-member symphony orchestra performing Tchaikovsky's familiar holiday score.
The 39-member Monterey County Pops!, conducted by Dr. Carl Christensen, will perform in the orchestra pit at Sunset Center with Dance Kids dancers on stage in the annual full-length holiday ballet.
"It is something I've always wanted; a quarter-century dream come true," says Dance Kids founder and artistic director, Carol Richmond. ”This will be a totally different experience for the audience, having a live orchestra perform the music. It is very exciting.”
Monterey County Pops! was founded in 1985 and not only provides to the community free, public pops-and-patriotic concerts on holidays, but is the only orchestra in Monterey County that provides a tuition-free, professional performance experience for disadvantaged students in their own communities.
Their audience has grown to approximately 6,700 and 175 young, underserved performers created six professional-quality performances in collaboration with the orchestra last year.
The performance weekend begins Dec. 8, 2017, with another tradition and a gift to the community; a free 10 a.m. Friday morning show given each year to the school children of the Monterey Peninsula. Dance Kids gifts the 700-seat theater to the underserved youth in the community. There will be a 7 p.m. Friday night show, Gala fundraiser on Saturday night, Dec. 9, 2017, at 5 p.m. and show at 7, and the much-anticipated “Sugar Plum Fairy Champagne and Tea Party” at 12:15 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 10, followed by the show at 2 p.m.
The full-length ballet features over 100 dancers ranging in age from 4 to adult; over 400 costumes and countless numbers of accessories, including headpieces, hats and gloves. This production requires countless hours of volunteer time and elaborate set design featuring local scenes and landmarks. The previous budget of $75,000 has grown to over $125,000 with the inclusion of the symphony. The funds were raised by the Dance Kids Board of Directors and Friends of Dance Kids.
The production is open to all dancers from the community and boasts a spirit of inclusion to all that audition. Auditions and rehearsal begin inSeptember. Andrea Paris Gutierrez, of the Los Angeles Ballet Academy, returns as choreographer, with five local rehearsal directors coordinating the production. Three of the five directors are Royal Academy of Dance, London, certified instructors.
"This is huge," says Richmond. "The symphony component has raised our 'Nutcracker' above and beyond. This isn't a baby step, this is an elegant leap into our celebration of Dance Kids’ Silver Anniversary Year.”
Two years ago, Dance Kids rebranded “Nutcracker; A Monterey Peninsula Tradition” and incorporated the Old Del Monte Hotel as the setting for the first act party scene and introduced famous characters associated with the Peninsula, such as Salvador Dali and John Steinbeck.
Richmond says, "The story line and choreography remain the same yet reflect the tradition of the heyday of the Peninsula in the early ’20s and ’30s."
In the near future, the production will announce the guest artists performing in December's productions.
Set designer for the production is Nicole Bryant-Stephans of Bottega Design, and costumes are by Joanne Phelps.
About Dance Kids
With over 24 years of production history, Dance Kids of Monterey County, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization founded by Richmond, is proud of its wide range of theatrical experience that support the youth of the Monterey Peninsula. In the early days, productions at the Carmel Ballet Academy included “Nutcracker” and original spring musicals written by Walt de Faria and a full-length spring ballet, produced at Sunset Center.
Dance Kids was known for fun-loving nostalgia surrounding the musical and drew from the community a range of young people and their families committed to theater. As it grew, its little venue could not handle the “Nutcracker” any longer, but continued at the venue for the spring musicals, until those too, outgrew the dance studio. “Nutcracker” moved to Sunset Center in 1995 and has remained there as its home venue except for the years the center was being remodeled.
Dance Kids “Nutcracker” has grown into a premier production eagerly awaited by cast and community. The original vision of Dance Kids of Monterey County has been honored as well as surpassed in the ensuing years. This year is one of pivotal change and growth.
About Monterey County Pops!
Monterey County Pops! was formed in 1985 by musicians and community leaders to expand and enrich musical experiences in Monterey County. In 1990, the orchestra adopted its mission to present free, public pops-and-patriotic concerts on holidays. In 2012, the orchestra renewed its commitment to serve all of Monterey County, not just the Monterey Peninsula.
Since 2012-13 music courses offered in Monterey County Public Schools has declined by more than 26 percent (California Department of Education Data Reporting Office). After-school music/enrichment programs are typically tuition-based and not accessible to low-income students. In the face of dwindling funding for the arts in our schools and rising concern about the inability of low-income students and their families to experience and create professional-quality, live music, in 2014, the Board of Trustees expanded its mission to focus on identifying, engaging, and educating the underserved youth of Monterey County.
In 2017, Monterey County Pops! is the only orchestra in Monterey County that provides a tuition-free, professional performance experience for disadvantaged students in their own communities. We do not impose a creative vision on our partner agencies, but work to enhance and expand programs already in place. Students don't just perform on our stage; they rehearse and play in our professional orchestra.
And, all of our programs are FREE for both for the young performers and for audience members.
We have expanded our program from the Monterey Peninsula into Seaside, Salinas, and King City, and our audience has grown to approximately 6,700. Last year, more than 175 young, underserved performers created six professional-quality performances in collaboration with Monterey County Pops!
In short, Monterey County Pops! is living up to its mission “to be an orchestra dedicated to bringing pops and patriotic music performed by professional musicians to the families and visitors of Monterey County free of charge, and to strategically identify, engage, and educate underserved youth of Monterey County.”
Marci Bracco Cain
Salinas, CA 93901