Season’s ‘Nutcracker’ delights

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Dancers put on professional-quality performance

Photo by PJ Sawyer

Katie Moffatt, a 16-year-old at Templeton High School proved to be a star at this season’s performance of “The Nutcracker.” Moffatt is a member of the Paso Robles Chamber Ballet Company, the Infinity Dance Company, Fusion and the Dance League U.S.A. Moffatt has performed in many productions, including “The Nutcracker,” “Let It Be,” and “The Magical Tale of Cinderella.”

TEMPLETON — After the Grand Pas De Deux of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Ballet” Sunday evening at the PAC, Gabriella Trevisan, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Cavalier Alexandre Alguero Alejos received a standing ovation, but the audience was overcome with praise throughout the entire performance, as rolls of applause erupted after every skillfully executed scene and variation. The sets were beautifully painted and classic. The costumes were brilliant and the cast was delightful: young ballerinas smiling and nailing their parts and lead dancers putting on a first-class performance, fit for any big-city stage. 
I took my 10-year-old son Luke as my date, and this was his first “Nutcracker,” a milestone for him and a complete carriage ride down memory lane for me. 
I adore the “Nutcracker” ballet! 
Throughout my childhood, I lived for my East Bay town’s yearly tree lighting ceremony and all the holiday traditions — from decorating the tree to Christmas Eve cookie baking. But one of my favorite treats was dressing in a heavy peacoat, scarf, and mittens and taking BART from the East Bay to San Francisco to see the “Nutcracker Ballet.” It’s a rite of passage for young ballerinas, as well as a signature event for people of any age who want to upgrade their holiday season from “Silent Night” to “Deck the Halls.” 
The cast did an amazing job with the “Nutcracker” this year by excellent performances and magical entertainment. Most of these dancers start with Class Act Dance Studio in Paso as supporting cast members for years until they are chosen for lead dance roles. I was pleasantly struck at the drama Caleb Cole, Lewis Middle School teacher, created in his part as Godfather Drosselmeyer. Other standout performances came from entire families of performers, including Amy Wescom, Assistant Director, choreographer and Mrs. Stahlbaum, her son Koby Wescom as the dashing Nutcracker Prince, and daughter Kyra Wescom as Fritz and Lead Chef.
It’s amazing to think Templeton, with a population 7,700, is hosting such a professional performance. 
It was right up there with the San Francisco Ballet, but the what made it better were our seats. You could hear the toe shoes tap the stage, as every seat at the PAC is a good seat. Creative Director Cheryle Armstrong calls her version of the Nutcracker “pre-professional” and I can see that. Certain standouts in the cast can easily make a living as dancers if they choose the path. 
Katie Moffatt, age 16, who danced as the Snow Queen, Arabian Queen, Ballet Mirliton and Dew Drop, was simply stunning – mesmerizing – and danced so flawlessly, I was glad to read in my program that she would like to pursue a degree and career in dance. Emaly Bousman made the most magnificent smiling, innocent Clara, and her dancing was phenomenal. 
I thought for sure my son would love the Battle Scene (and he did – his mouth was a wide open circle), but his favorite scene was the presentation of the Drosselmeyer Dolls in Act I, choreographed by Cheryle Armstrong and Amy Wescom, when PRHS sophomore Peyton Beasley blew him away as a wind up ballerina doll coming to life. Beasley’s Dragon Queen dance was off the charts as well — another moment when I was thinking to myself, ‘how is such incredible talent coming from such a tiny little town?’ 
Gabriella Trevisan danced like a dream as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and held her own while being lifted into the air by professional visiting artist Alexander Alguero Alejos from Barcelona as the Cavalier. During the Waltz of the Snowflakes, as Trevisan danced with her fellow Snow Spirits, a little voice from the row behind me asked her mother to please, please let her on stage to dance in the set snow fell from the curtain. “I want to go on stage, Mommy, she begged, PLEASE!” 
We all felt that way! 
At the intermission the entire audience, from the powder room to the outdoor hot cider line was abuzz with awe: that this little town could host such talent each year. For 21 years running the “Nutcracker” ballet has been winning over the Christmas memories of its youth and former youth and bringing back more and faithful “Nutcracker” lovers to their favorite parts of the season. 
Apparently I’m not the only one tearing up at every scene; a gal next to me said she cries too when she sees the 6-year-old Bon Bons and Angels dancing their little hearts out. I heard the show sold out most every ballet they performed this season so I’m pretty sure the community has embraced the family Nutcracker tradition as as my son and I have. Next year, we’ll be getting tickets for sure. And I will save my program, because I can hardly wait to find out who will be back again as Clara, Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy next holiday season. 
You may reach Reporter Beth Giuffre at [email protected] for questions and/or feedback. 

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