Noble Dance offers different take on classic ‘Nutcracker’

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  • The Noble Dance Performing Company presents “Journey to the Land of the Sweets” on Dec. 7-9 at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Murphy of JMK Photography)

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    Elise Sabin plays Clara in the Noble Dance Performing Company’s production of “Journey to the Land of the Sweets.” (Photo courtesy of Wayne Murphy of JMK Photography)

  • The Noble Dance Performing Company presents “Journey to the Land of the Sweets” on Dec. 7-9 at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Murphy of JMK Photography)

  • 1

    Elise Sabin plays Clara in the Noble Dance Performing Company’s production of “Journey to the Land of the Sweets.” (Photo courtesy of Wayne Murphy of JMK Photography)

The Noble Dance Performing Company presents “Journey to the Land of the Sweets,” a lively take on the holiday classic the “Nutcracker” next week during its eighth annual Winter Celebration.

There are four shows Dec. 7-9 at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center under the direction of Natalie Molter.

Not your typical “Nutcracker,” Act 1 begins with Clara entertaining her friends for a holiday gift exchange, where she takes the opportunity to parade her new life size doll. After the festivities, she falls asleep and dreams her toy soldiers to life. She startles awake to find herself in the middle of an epic battle between her toys and the house rats, led by the Queen Rat, company dancer Sara Gunlikson of Whitefish. When the commotion of the Battle Scene subsides, tranquility settles in as dancing snowflakes transport Clara through the falling snow and on into the sugary Land of the Sweets. Treat inspired solos, duets, and trios from all over the world occur one right after another. Spanish Chocolate, Arabian Coffee, Chinese Tea, Marzipan and more are led by everyone’s favorite, the Sugar Plum Fairy, danced by company dancer Annie Howeth of Whitefish. The tradition isn’t complete without the Waltz of the Flowers and the company doesn’t disappoint.

The production showcases the Noble Dance Performing Company dancers led by Elise Sabin of Whitefish as Clara. A Montana Dance Arts Association scholarship winner, Sabin trained last summer at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Clara’s friends are danced by Allie Jellison of Bigfork and Olivia Rice of Kalispell, both double scholarship winners for last summer’s training intensives. Jellison with a scholarship from MDAA and UNCSA, attended UNCSA with Sabin. Rice won scholarships from MDAA and Whitman College in Walla Walla, Idaho, where she attended Summer Dance Lab. Both dancers will be dancing many roles in the ballet and are highlighted in Act 2 with Jellison as Russian Trepak and Rice as Arabian Coffee.

Although the workload is placed largely on the shoulders of the company dancers with a massive amount of dancing, every student in the Noble School of Ballet and Storybook Ballet School is also performing during the weekend. The students, nearly 200 children, get to shine in colorful smaller roles like Royal Frosting, Snowflakes and Chinese Tea.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, and 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9. Tickets are $18 adults, $8 students, and lap sitters are free. All tickets are reserved seating and are available at nobledance.org.

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