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‘Nutcracker: A Monterey Peninsula Tradition’, December 13, 14 and 15, 2019 at Carmel's Sunset Center, features over 100 dancers and actors on stage with the Monterey County Pops! 39-member symphony orchestra, conducted by Dr. Carl Christensen, performing Tchaikovsky's familiar holiday score.


”Experiencing a live orchestra with the ballet is magical. It is an opportunity few people have outside of a major metropolitan area, and Dance Kids is proud to be the only company in Monterey County to provide this enrichment,” Founder Carol Richmond is quoted.


The performance weekend begins Dec. 13, 2019 with another tradition and gift to the community; a free 10 a.m. Friday morning performance for over 700 underserved school children from the Monterey Peninsula. Additional performances and fundraising opportunities are:


Friday, December 13th at 7 p.m. 

Saturday, December 14th at 5 p.m. Gala fundraiser and show at 7 p.m.

Sunday, December 15th at 12:30 p.m. “Sugar Plum Fairy Champagne and Tea Party” and show at 2 p.m.


The Gala theme, ‘A Journey Through the Land of Sweets’ features exquisite catering with treats from exotic countries, fine wines and beer, a silent and live auction, all set in a vision befitting the elegance of the evening. Enjoy a smorgasbord of tastes by Angela Blessing Catering, featuring Russian, Chinese, Spanish and Arabian delicacies reminiscent of Clara’s magical journey in the Land of the Sweets.  Scheid Vineyards and Carmel Craft Brewing are pouring their finest! Desserts abound courtesy of Chef William Bennett.  The evening is filled with silent and live auction items including fine wines and trips to far-away lands; all in support of the children of Dance Kids. The gala ticket includes Premium seating in the orchestra section of the theatre.

The Sugar Plum Fairy invites you and your child to join her for an adult Champagne luncheon and Dance Kids own Mixologist, Vanessa, creating mocktails for the younger set, luncheon by Michelle Blessings Catering, a children’s dance party, craft stations creating photo memories,  and story time with Herr Drosselmeyer.   The Sugar Plum Fairy party ticket includes Premium Seating in the orchestra section of the theatre.  

The full-length ballet features over 100 dancers ranging in age from four to adult, with over 400 costumes and countless numbers of accessories, including headpieces, hats and gloves. This production requires countless hours of volunteer time and elaborate set design featuring local scenes and landmarks. The previous budget of $75,000 has grown to over $125,000 with the inclusion of the symphony. The funds were raised by the Dance Kids Board of Directors and Friends of Dance Kids.

The production is open to all dancers from the community and boasts a spirit of inclusion to all who audition. Auditions and rehearsal began in September. Philip Pegler, Dance Kids of Monterey County’s Artistic Director and former member of the Royal Academy of Dance, London, Sandra Burnham, Royal Academy of Dance adjudicator and the Peninsula’s own Gloria Elber, lead the team of choreographers and ballet directors.


"This is huge accomplishment involving so many volunteer hours," says Richmond. "The symphony component has raised our 'Nutcracker' above and beyond. A live orchestra is a gift to the audience and an incredible experience for our dancers.”


Four years ago, Dance Kids re-branded “Nutcracker; A Monterey Peninsula Tradition” and incorporated the Old Del Monte Hotel as the setting for the first act party scene and introduced famous characters associated with the Peninsula, such as Salvador Dali and John Steinbeck.


Richmond says, "The story line and choreography remain the same yet reflect the tradition of the heyday of the Peninsula in the early ’20s and ’30s."


Set designer for the production is Nicole Bryant-Stephens of Bottega Design, and costumes are by Joanne Phelps.