It’s off to the Land of the Sweets for a few of our Dean dancers! This weekend, four Dance majors will take the stage in the Cape Symphony’s abridged version of The Nutcracker: Christopher Luz Roque ’25 as the Snow King, Chiara Salzillo ’25 as the Snow Queen, Elisha Lesure ’23 as the Flower Fairy, and McKenna Talbot ’24 as the Sugar Plum Fairy.
This performance is part of the Cape Symphony’s annual “Holiday on the Cape” performances, which includes seasonal songs and performances from guest vocalists, the Cape’s orchestra and the Cape Symphony Dance Company. This year is the first time the holiday tradition will include scenes from The Nutcracker – featuring Dean’s very own Dance majors.
The four dancers received the opportunity to audition for the ballet through Dean’s dance professors, and they’ve been working hard at rehearsals and on their own time to prepare for their roles.
“We have our scheduled rehearsal times, which is when we would learn and rehearse choreography,” McKenna said about her role as the Sugar Plum Fairy. “Outside of those times, I continue to rehearse to feel confident in the material. I also continue to take ballet classes every day of the week to build my technique and make sure I can be as strong as possible for our performances.”
“As the Flower Fairy in the Waltz of Flowers, I have been practicing my role throughout the past couple of months,” Elisha added. “For the role we've had limited practices, so I have been practicing a lot on my own time to not only memorize the choreography, but also add performance aspects to it for the audience.”
Chris and Chiara will be performing together as the Snow King and Queen in Clara’s dream world, dancing to the “Waltz of the Snowflakes.” To prepare for the role of Snow Queen, which signifies the transition from Clara’s world to the Land of the Sweets, Chiara has also been turning to other productions of the ballet. “To prepare for this role and gain inspiration, I have been watching YouTube videos of professional ballet dancers, like Chyrstyn Fentroy, and their portrayals of Snow Queen,” she said.
The Nutcracker is a beloved tradition for dancers and spectators alike, and each have their own memories associated with the ballet. For Chiara, it’s her first time getting to perform in the holiday classic.
“I have never performed in a Nutcracker before, so I am especially excited to perform this weekend,” Chiara said. “I have seen a couple of ballet companies perform The Nutcracker, including the Boston Ballet. The nostalgic, cheery Christmas energy you feel when watching The Nutcracker is a feeling like no other.”
Meanwhile, McKenna, Elisha and Chris are excited to come back to the ballet in new roles.
“I've performed in The Nutcracker before and it's a completely different experience,” Elisha said. “All the environments have been very fast-paced with learning choreography; however, now that I'm older than I previously was, I'm able to help make more decisions that go into the choreography.”
“I have performed in The Nutcracker once before, as an angel,” said McKenna. “I was very young, and going from angel to Sugar Plum is quite the jump! Since doing it the first time, I’ve watched the show and have wanted to do it again, but I was just unsure of how and where I could do it. Being able to perform this again is fulfilling for my inner child, who would be so excited to see me as an adult coming back to a show I had so much fun performing in as a child.”
“When I was little, I had the opportunity of being the first Nutcracker at my home studio, Harper Dance Center, for their own rendition of Nutcracker called the Nutcracker Twist,” Chris said. “It was one of my very first shows, so for me I was overtaken by excitement for the stage. As you get older, of course you might get more difficult and mature parts, but the main focus is on communication with the audience and putting on a sensational show for them! Less focusing on how I can smile and more focusing on how to make the audience smile. The Nutcracker is almost like a ballet tradition, and now as a professional dancer it’s important to give back to the audience what inspired me to love dance.”
All are looking forward to performing the ballet to a live orchestra, with music provided by the Cape Symphony.
“I am most excited to see the show come together as a whole with lighting, set, and of course the incredible orchestra,” said Chiara.
“It’s such a unique experience as a performer, and it creates a completely different atmosphere for the show,” McKenna explained.
Elisha agreed: “I've never danced to live music on stage before, and I'm excited to have this opportunity to do so.”
And Chris, who is from Cape Cod, is especially thrilled for the chance to perform in his hometown. “I’m mostly excited to give back to my hometown and represent my college at the same time,” he said. “It definitely is such an exciting opportunity that I couldn’t be more grateful for.”
We love to see our Bulldogs shine, both on and off campus! Catch Chris, Chiara, Elisha and McKenna in six performances of “Holiday on the Cape” from Friday, December 2 through Sunday, December 4, 2022. Learn more about the Cape Symphony’s “Holiday on the Cape” and Dance degree programs at Dean College.