Carmel, CA, June 19, 2018 — Dance Kids of Monterey County, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, announced that its popular “Nutcracker: A Monterey Peninsula Tradition,” will be performed Dec. 7-9 at the Sunset Center in Carmel.
Once again, the annual ballet will feature the 39-member Monterey County Pops! symphony orchestra conducted by Dr. Carl Christensen. And, for the first time, the production will feature a children’s choir performing onstage during Act I’s “Dance of the Snowflakes.”
“We are so honored and excited to be celebrating our 25th anniversary this year,” says Dance Kids founder and artistic director, Carol Richmond. “It’s so heartening to know that the community continues to support our mission to strengthen character and positively influence children’s lives through the performing arts. We will continue to grow and improve and bring on new talent to carry on that legacy.”
With that in mind, Dance Kids also announced they have named veteran professional dancer and teacher Philip Pegler as its new Artistic Director. Pegler has more than 30 years of experience in classical ballet as a professional dancer and teacher. He was most recently Dance Kids’ Ballet Director.
The performance weekend begins Dec. 7, 2018, 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, a Gala fundraiser on Saturday night, Dec. 8, 2018, 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. 9, followed by the show at 2 p.m.
The full-length ballet features more than 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.
A new addition to the production this year will be a children’s choir under the direction of Dance Kids vocal and drama instructor Stacy Meheen. The choir of children ages 6-14 will perform a wordless vocalization during Act I’s finale, “Waltz of the Snowflakes.”
“It’s an angelic sound, it’s quite lovely,” says Meheen, who is the executive director of the Wharf Theatre and voice and drama teacher at Carmel River School. “It will be very special and very spectacular.”
Meheen is seeking singers for the choir and has scheduled vocal auditions for children 6-14, at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, at Carmel Academy of Performing Arts, Mission Street and Eighth Avenue, in Carmel. For more information, call (831) 624-3729.
The entire production is open to all dancers from the community and boasts a spirit of inclusion to all that audition. Auditions and rehearsal begin in September. 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.
Three 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.
In addition, Dance Kids of Monterey County will once again present performances of “Cascanueces: A Folklorico Nutcracker,” in South County schools in November.
Now in its fifth year of touring Monterey County, the annual holiday tradition in story and dance celebrates the rich culture of Mexico and countries south of the border. The idea of melding European music and music from Spanish-speaking countries to create a “Cascanueces” has brought together mariachi musicians, folkloric choreographers and local ballet dancers.
The November 2018 tour date of “Cascanueces” is reserved by South County schools early each school year in the anticipation of a colorful and educational assembly. The tour begins in San Ardo with performances in San Lucas, King City, Greenfield and Salinas.
Sponsorships are now available for “Cascanueces” as well as in June for December’s “Nutcracker” performances. Call (831) 622-9008 for more information.
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.
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.
Sunset Center, Cottage #17
San Carlos Street at 10th Ave.,
P.O. Box 6225
Carmel, CA 93921
Phone: (831) 622-9008
Fax: (831) 218-1293
Marci Bracco Cain
Salinas, CA 93901