Bella Dance Academy refuses to miss a beat as they proceed with their annual December production of the Nutcracker.
The academy held auditions Saturday for their 12th year of the Nutcracker show. This year, dancers will perform the Nutty Nutcracker — a lighthearted spinoff of the Nutcracker classic.
The performance will run at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) on Dec. 19 and 20 with a reduced cast size.
Auditions were held online over zoom, a month later than their usual mid-September date.
“The dancers were amazing and I am super proud of the willingness and adaptability of our students to be able to jump onto the Zoom platform,” said Phoenix Smith, studio director at Bella Dance Academy.
The delayed auditions were to ensure “a safe and thorough plan” for performances, Smith said.
Over 60 dancers, ages six to 17, auditioned for the production, more than would have been able to safely attend in-person auditions at the studio.
“With creative scheduling and casting, I was able to offer almost every dancer a role in our production,” Smith said.
Among the dancers is Briar Rintoul, already a seasoned performer in the Christmas special at eight years old.
This will be Rintoul’s third run at the Nutcracker and second year in her role as a flower following one performance as an angel at age six.
Rintoul said she was nervous to audition over zoom and prefers the process in-person.
For the tryout, dancers followed along with Smith, which Rintoul said was “OK but glitchy.”
Rintoul dances with the academy six days a week.
She takes classes in ballet, tap and jazz, and is the youngest member of the Bella Beats competitive junior dance team.
She said she’s made a lot of friends dancing with the academy for the past five years.
Rintoul said she’s excited to be on stage for the Nutcracker show.
“I love everything about dancing,” she said.
In accordance with public health measures, some of the show’s modifications from previous years include a reduced cast size where dancers may play multiple parts, fewer characters, reduced show lengths and a maximum of 50 audience members.
“These modifications will make our show a little different than it has been in previous years,” Smith said, “so we’ve decided to lean fully into the idea of Nutty Nutcracker as we vary a little from the classic ballet with some changes in music, styles and characters.”
In June, Bella Dance Academy organized in-person performances as part of their “re-imagined” recitals at Folk on the Rocks. The recital took place days after the territory moved to phase two of the Covid recovery plan. It showcased 98 dancers who performed in groups of five or fewer who were each allowed up to three guests maximum.
After the recitals, Smith said the academy “knew there was a way to safely coordinate a performance that followed all protocols and policies put in place by the CPHO (Chief Public Health Officer) and NACC.”
Nutty Nutcracker tickets go on sale mid-November.
The show will run approximately 50 minutes and with the limited capacity of viewers, so Smith said “we need our 50 audience members to cheer extra loud.”