Presenting a classic

Prairie Dance Alliance to perform ‘The Nutcracker’ this weekend

Photo by Cindy Votruba Members of the cast of Prairie Dance Alliance’s performance of “The Nutcracker” rehearsed the full show earlier this week. The show will be performed at 7 p.m. today, 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

MARSHALL — Back in 2001, Annie (Christianson) Deutz portrayed Clara in “The Nutcracker,” while Breanna (Ahmann) Thompson played a puppet.

This year, the two are co-choreographing the show.

The Prairie Dance Alliance is presenting “The Nutcracker” at 7 p.m. today, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday in the Schwan Community Center for the Performing Arts at Marshall High School.

This year’s show includes 120 cast members and volunteers, said PDA president Justin Holmgren, and roughly 1,500 people attend during the run. The show also has several corporate and individual sponsors, and major grant funding has come from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council and the U.S. Bank Foundation. The Marshall Area Stage Company, the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council, PDA board members, dance parents and SMSU are helping out with the production as well.

“It’s a fantastic production,” Holmgren said. “It’s been a tremendous amount of work for all the parents and volunteers.”

“It’s a team effort, a collaboration of people involved,” Deutz said. “It takes a village.”

Deutz said she and Thompson started from scratch with the show.

“We really started from the ground up,” Deutz said.

The show is still a classic “Nutcracker,” Deutz said, but they added their own twist on it, with new choreography, some new roles and new costuming.

“Breanna and I were a true team,” Deutz said.

Rehearsals for the show have been going on since August, Deutz said, and the timeline is a little shorter this year. The dancers have been in the studio on Sundays from noon to 6:30 p.m. working on the different parts.

“The kids have been working so hard” learning all of this choreography, Deutz said.

“It’s definitely been a big project, but it’s been a lot of fun,” Thompson said. Thompson said she’s enjoyed using their creativity and their local talent to create new parts and choreography for “The Nutcracker.”

“It’s been fun to create parts for the kids this year,” Thompson said.

“We gave kids a lot of multiple roles this year,” Deutz said. They also added a few parts in the show as well to “utilize the talent we have in southwest Minnesota.”

Deutz said choreographing the show is a new perspective for her, a good one.

“You see it through different eyes, you’re sitting back and watching the production unfold,” she said.

“You realized how much you have learned when you teach others,” Deutz added.

Deutz said she and Thompson divided up the choreography with each scene, including the party scene, the battle, snow and the Land of Sweets.

The choreography was inspired by the music, Deutz said, the music tells a story in itself.

Some of the dancers are in all the scenes, plus there are multiple costume changes, Deutz said.

Thompson said the show has come together well.

“It’s amazing how quickly the kids adapt,” Thompson said.

Deutz said the dancers themselves have played a part in creating the choreography.

“We feed off the dancers a lot,” Deutz said. She said she and Thompson have crafted choreography to their dancers’ strengths.

Michaela Bosveld portrays the Nutcracker in the show, along with a few other roles including Chinese dancer. She said rehearsals have been going well and there was a lot of work going into them.

“It was a lot more than I expected because I’m literally in every scene in some way,” Bosveld said.

In the past, the role of the Nutcracker has been done by a professional dancer. Deutz said she and Thompson thought they could give the role to one of their own dancers.

Bosveld said it’s been fun being the Nutcracker and that she’s been on both ends of the soldier group. People who have portrayed the Nutcracker in past PDA productions have been dancers she’s known and looked up to, Bosveld said.

“It’s kind of cool to be in their shoes,” she said.

Two professional dancers from Minneapolis will be part of the show — Brittany and Matthew Keefe. They will portray the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier.

Alexis Baynard portrays the Rat Queen in the show and also dances in the snow scene and as a lollipop. She said she likes how the show brings all ages together and how she can be a role model for the younger children.

“It’s really cool to see all the little kids,” Baynard said about the show. She said one of the younger children even drew her a picture of her Rat Queen character.

Baynard said she’s been in six PDA productions.

“I feel like I could do every part,” Baynard said.

Keelin Louwagie has been in several of PDA’s productions, and with her first time in “The Nutcracker,” she played a mouse and one of Mother Ginger’s children. This year, she gets to play one of the guests in the party scene, along with dancing in the snow scene.

“(I like) just being with my dance family and being part of the excitement,” Louwagie said about being in the show.

For Louwagie and Baynard, this will be their last time onstage with the Prairie Dance Alliance production.

“It’s very bittersweet; this is my last one,” Baynard said.