Carnegie Performing Arts Center prepares for holiday classic
Carnegie Performing Arts Center students will treat audiences to a magical holiday with another performance of “The Nutcracker.”
The Andrew Carnegie Music Hall stage will showcase more than 70 dancers from the center and area dance schools on Dec. 5 through Dec. 7 and Dec. 12 through 14.
“It’s like an old-fashioned Christmas card,” said Monica Ryan, the center’s director for 14 years. “It’s very traditional, but we have more candy than most productions. It’s a big Candy Kingdom.”
This will be the center’s 39th production with the elegant music of Tchaikovsky and Ryan’s original choreography.
Ryan graduated from San Francisco Conservatory of Ballet, studied in Brussels and Germany and mounted ballets for companies in California. Today, she and her husband Ray, who teaches music and is a musical theater accompanist, live in Sheraden.
“There are no divas here,” she said of the 85 dancers, ages 3 to 18, who attend her classes.
Students learn all phases of production, including costume resizing, props and set design.
Adrienne Elion, a Chartiers Valley High School junior and a Scott resident, will dance the Sugar Plum Fairy role.
“I watched others dance it since I was 3,” said Adrienne, now 16. “You wait. You hope and here you are.”
She stretches, takes time to relax, walks through her steps and prays to prepare for every performance.
“It’s so fantastic to add an audience,” Adrienne said. “They add energy to the performance. They want to see something wonderful, and you want to give it.”
Hanna Brandebura, 18, of Carnegie, has danced since she was 5. “When I dance, everything in the outside world goes away,” she said.
In all 13 years at the center, she’s been in “The Nutcracker’ nine times. This season, she’ll play the Dew Drop Fairy, a Snowflake and one of the Ponchinelles.
“Many of the dances are en pointe, and your feet get tired, but you have to keep up the pace with everyone,” the Bishop Canevin High School senior said.
In the Snow Scene, the music, dancing and scenery come together.
“You’re feeling it, and (the audience) is feeling it,” she said. “It’s a ‘wow’ moment.”
Sloan Armbruster of Whitehall will dance the Nutcracker Prince role. A few years ago, his brother Nigel, now 18, played the part.
The eighth-grader at Harrison Middle School tried dance because of his sibling. At the center for the past three years, he’s tried tap, jazz and ballet and finds ballet the most fun.
“I like the moves better,” he said.
He was surprised and happy when he was chosen for the lead.
Sloan appreciates the center’s teachers working to make each dancer better. As one of seven male students there, he has advice for those who hesitate to learn dance: “Don’t care what others think about you. It’s your fun, and you meet a lot of cool people.”
Ryan said “The Nutcracker” is a “magical production year after year. It has nostalgic charm.”
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or [email protected].