Flint Hill’s “Nutcracker” rewinds to the roaring 20s


Photo Credit: Victor O'Neill Studios

Junior Jackie Plein is lifted by a guest dancer.

The beginning of Thanksgiving break kicked off the sixth annual Flint Hill rendition of “The Nutcracker,” a beloved performance with more than 100 participants. With junior Jackie Plein as the Sugar Plum Fairy, the entire ensemble was an unforgettable experience for the dancers, orchestra, participants, and audience.

This annual event never fails to ignite a sense of holiday spirit throughout Flint Hill community. Since the original Nutcracker’s first performance more than 120 years ago, this ballet has become a staple tradition across the world that resonates joy and thankfulness.

The entire Arts Department worked to ensure that the 2015 “Nutcracker” met the high-standards set by the past five productions. New this year, the change of time period to the Roaring Twenties in this year’s production was an interesting and refreshing update to the past performances.

“This year was really great because we incorporated old traditions and new additions,” said Dance Teacher Jenelle Mrykalo. “It was exciting to do a version that was focused in the 1920s because it meant a change of sets, costumes, and choreography.”

Mrykalo along with Dance Teacher Kasey Lynn also incorporated new choreography.

“This year about 60% of ‘The Nutcracker’ was re-choreographed,” said Director Mrykalo. “The dances change every year to keep things new.”

The ballerinas responded positively to the changes and the product of their hard work.

Senior Maggie Farace dances the part of the Snow Queen.
Photo Credit: Victor O’Neill Studios
Senior Maggie Farace dances the part of the Snow Queen.

“Overall I thought the shows went really well,” said senior Maggie Farace, who danced as the Snow Queen and in Arabian. “We all dedicated a lot of time and energy to the performance, and I’m thrilled our hard work payed off. I couldn’t have asked for my final “Nutcracker” to end on a more positive note.”

Some of the dancers even choreographed select pieces on their own.

“The hardest part was finding time to rehearse for Arabian and coming up with choreography for the piece. We all had very busy schedules,” said Farace.

Involving ballerinas, orchestra members, and teachers, “The Nutcracker” was genuinely a school-wide event. What makes Flint Hill’s production unique is its ability to include so many members of the  community. When the opening party scene began, students were able to watch their teachers step out on stageperhaps a place the students never expected to see them.

Many participants are “Nutcracker” veterans, but something about this year’s show was special.

“[It was] by far the most fun I’ve ever had in the Flint Hill Nutcracker,” said Photography and Digital Arts Teacher Catherine Huber, who played a mouse this year in her third Nutcracker.   

The audience exhaled a synchronized “aww” as junior kindergarteners scampered across the stage emitting their bright-eyed smiles and ebullience.

In the back of the Olson Theatre sat Flint Hill’s Upper School orchestra, providing beautiful live music to the event. Being an integral part of the show, these musicians invested several weeks into this production in order to ensure they played perfectly.  

“We had a lot of rehearsals leading up to the performance and spent a lot of time making ‘The Nutcracker’ the best it could be,” said senior and violist Sasha Bilal. “We also added two new pieces, ‘Christmas Tree’ and ‘Land of the Sweets,’ which were an awesome addition to the show and really added to the Christmas spirit of the entire ballet.”

A new conductor, Middle and Upper School Orchestra Teacher Kenneth Whitley, provided another significant change to this year’s rendition. Middle and Upper School Band Teacher Dereck Scott, a veteran to “The Nutcracker” pieces, made sure that everyone remembered the atmosphere of each piece while Whitley completed his part in the process wonderfully.

After hours of rehearsals, choreography, and preparation, the dancers and performers got to see the show come to life for two wonderful nights and a Saturday matinée.