MarLo Dance Studio presents 'The Nutcracker'

Elli Schulz performs in MarLo Dance Studio's "The Nutcracker" which opens Saturday, Dec. 8 and continues Dec. 9, Dec. 14, 15 and 16 at the Sprague Theater.

BANDON — MarLo Dance Studio’s celebrates its 20th anniversary season with its production of ”The Nutcracker,” a holiday celebration to share. Dancing toys, mischievous mice and sparkling snowflakes dance to Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous score at the Sprague Theater in Bandon, 1202 11th St. SW.

MarLo Dance Studio’s presentation of The Nutcracker stands apart in both behind the scenes and in its presentation. Although not professionals, the students, part of the now 20-year program, are exceptional. 

“Our shows sell out because we work diligently to stay consistent and improve both in quality of dance training and the dramatic presentation," said director Maria Merriam.

Merriam and her staff hold back nothing by way of scenery and costuming, which are updated with each bi-annual Nutcracker production. MarLo brings the best of both worlds together, “big city detail combined with the up-close intimacy" of Bandon’s Sprague Community Theater.

Massive changes have also been done to the choreography and how the Christmas story of the girl Clara is presented for 2018. Typically, Clara is a small role. In MDS’s 2018 version Clara, danced by Hallie Minkler (13 years old) will be dancing throughout the entire production, including the Grand Pas de Deux more typically performed by the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier. Hallie’s partner is prince Isaac Wright (16 years old). Isaac first danced the role of Nutcracker Prince in 2012 as a very young boy. With each succeeding performance (2014, 2016), the choreography and assignments were changed to match his growth of training. Isaac has attended numerous partnering classes at Eugene Ballet and was mentored by MarLo alumni Strider Kachelein, and Boston Ballet member Matthew Averill.

“As much as I am proud of all the personal achievements of all my students, I am most blessed by how they give back and what that says about their character," said Merriam.

The MDS upper level students have all taken on mentoring roles. Working on costumes, rehearsal coaches and even small choreography assignments. Merriam feels it is the studio family teamwork that makes MarLo Dance Studio and its performances so magical.

This Christmas classic tells the story of Clara and her magical Nutcracker Prince embarking on a thrilling adventure. MarLo Dance Studio rings in the season with this family friendly version of "The Nutcracker," even the youngest children will be captivated by the performance, lavish scenery and costumes all of which makes this ballet a family favorite.

The show will be presented two weekends, Dec. 8-9 and Dec. 14-16. The Friday and Saturday performances will begin at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Featured performers are from Bandon, Coos Bay, Coquille, Myrtle Point, Langlois, Port Orford and Brookings with guest artist Dr. Christina Crawford of Houston, Texas, as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

From left: Rachelle Maxon, Haddy Slater, Hallie Minkler, Gracie Slater (kneeling), Elli Schulz

Advance tickets cost $16 for adults and $13 for children 10 and younger. At the door, tickets will be $20 and $15 for children. Reserved seating is available through the studio website's event page, www.marlodance.com, or by calling 541-252-1394.

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