Scroll down to view testimonials and a slide show of Nutcracker photos!
A holiday tradition at VCA, The Nutcracker has been beloved by island families and celebrated in our community every holiday season for decades. With The Kay stage shuttered for now, we brought The Nutcracker to life and hopefully sprinkled a little holiday cheer to dancers and families in the only way possible – streaming a virtual Nutcracker medley! More than 20 years of The Nutcracker videos have been edited to assemble this pastiche of footage into a single performance!
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Our family joined the dance program at VCA eleven years ago. Little did we know it was going to become a full family routine! While Duncan lept and pirouetted all over the place, I joined the greenroom crew. I knew from that moment that we had found something special!
Every spring and winter since, we blocked out rehearsal weeks. Dinner and snacks were planned and prepped ahead, table and floor activities were set up, ballet shoes were sewn, and let us not forget my ever-present clipboard!
While I got to play with some of my very favorite little (and big!) people, Niamh would clickety-clack in her tap shoes, Colton get ready to play Drosselmeyer, and Duncan- well I’m sure you can imagine what he was doing. 😊 Those nights became some of our family’s most cherished holiday traditions.
Beyond the performances, we got to watch Duncan find his purpose. We watched him develop life long skills like perseverance, commitment, loyalty, and dedication. He became a pretty snazzy dancer, too.
We will be forever grateful for our time at the VCA. We are so thankful for the welcome we received, and for the memories and relationships we developed along the way.
Lights, music, costume, and a number of volunteers to enlist was essential. Susan was very involved in all aspects of VCA Dance and I began to get involved in the late 1990s and early 2000s. We took over designing the ‘front of house’ in the locker area of the high school. Throughout the year we collected nutcrackers to sell and other items to help raise money. We blanketed the lockers and tried to create an environment like a Christmas market with lights and trees, and “shops”. During rehearsals for a show, Christine mentioned that she needed adults to help be in the party scene. I offered to help if she wanted someone to add a little levity. She quickly agreed (maybe a little too quickly) and for 5-6 years I paraded around stage as “Grandpa” with a cane and a few antics. What I loved about this was getting closer to the kids in rehearsal and during the shows. I would arrive at rehearsal in street clothes and get nervous side glances by the kids in the scene. They didn’t know who I was or why I was there on stage. Each rehearsal, I added more and more costume until they became more comfortable with me and we could play up the scene a bit. One such antic was when Rob played Drosselmeyer and Katherine, his daughter, played the maid. I spoke with her about some things I would like her to do during the scene. I first approached her in the back and pulled out a necklace to “entice” her and had her shake her head and walk away off stage. Then I followed her and chased her back across stage all while the dance continued. Christine had no idea this was going to happen and she laughed and enjoyed this “off-script” happening in the back. When not on stage, I would share card tricks and read books and play blocks with the kids back stage. At intermission, I removed the costume and joined Susan and other volunteers in sales area. On Sunday, after everything was cleaned and stored, the entire front of house cleaned, we all went to La Playa for drinks and eats. This was a very close knit set of volunteers that loved helping Christine and the dance program.
I am sitting in my empty, too clean studio writing and thinking of Nutcracker Season. Usually this time of year my studio (and my head) is filled with the wonderful chaos of designing, constructing, deconstructing, altering, and turning the images swirling around in my mind into costumes for all the hard working dancers. In the early years of Nutcracker our small production team worked with a shoestring budget, a lot of imagination, determination, excitement and joy. We used sheets from Granny’s, donated fabrics, coupons and sale items from Joann. Some of the original costumes are still in use! Mice and Russian have been mended and added to year after year. We just retired the original Mirliton costumes a couple of years ago.
Hello to all dancers and families and people who love and are learning to love dance on Vashon.
I had the great honor to work on the front of house experience for the Nutcracker for several years.
I am, and remain, convinced that the front of house experience can set the tone for the performance, focus and uplift the audience for a lovingly crafted, earnestly executed performance. The audience mood helps the performers. If they are fighting with ticket sales, seat assignments and grumpy staff the idea falls apart.
I always chose a strong front of house design concept, communicated that all can contribute, and supported with various front of house elements. It was fun to welcome parents and dancers with front of house ideas and arts and crafts.
Favorite memories include the frosty land of snow front of house and Sugar Plum’s sweet shoppe. It was lovely to see what students and parents created for donation “sales”. Creating fun beverages, homemade snacks and take home treats for families was always rewarding. I especially remember the O-space nutcracker with our gleaming chandelier, giant peppermint decorations, hand-made knit hats, glittering white tree, flowers galore, and a fun space to decorate.
I especially appreciated donation sales of the nutcrackers we would have donated from families or find at Grannies. Sometimes island families were at their first nutcracker show and an inexpensive nutcracker, maybe a little worn, would light up a child visitor’s face. That was the fun part, seeing the audience enjoy themselves, enjoy being together at the Nutcracker, smiling, laughing and having a nice time. That floated me.
Another December….let’s do it again.
To all dancers, past, present, and future…
Holly Godard, lobby lady