It’s one thing to present an ambitious project like The Nutcracker. It’s even more challenging to keep it fresh and new for a decade.

The St. Paul and District Arts Foundation knows the challenges, and has risen to meet them for 10 years with their production of the beloved Christmas ballet. The Nutcracker offered three performances in St. Paul December 2 and 3.

“It went really well,” said Valerie Pratch, the foundation’s treasurer. She credits artistic director Dave Ganert for creating an innovative show, and the many performers—local and “imported”—who brought the artistic vision to life.

“The feedback from the audience was all positive,” Pratch said. “Having the ability to bring dancers from Edmonton is amazing for our organization and for our community to see.”

The production often attracts performers from Edmonton, Calgary, and elsewhere to assemble a high-quality presentation. 

The second act included a variety of cultural dances: a Chinese dance presented by Lynda Young, Caerys Young-Krekoski, and Arlen Young-Krekoski; a French dance by Lauren Chakawy; a Jingle Dance performed by Randi Candline of Bigstone Cree Nation; Indian dance by Dayana Baby; Irish dance performed by Rebbecca and Jessica Bell; and Ukrainian dance presented by Emily Belke-Farrell.

The cast included Ukrainian dancers from Viter Ukrainian Dancers and Folk Choir, Vohon Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, and St. Paul Desna Ukrainian Dancers. The Mattierin School of Irish Dance performed a larger-ensemble Irish dance.

Among the principal dancers were Olive Lukaszuk as Clara, and Demetrius Kuc as the Nutcracker. Both are from Edmonton.

Pratch says the St. Paul and District Arts Foundation manages to develop local talent by working with artists from different disciplines, from inside and outside of the community.

“If you look at The Nutcracker and the people behind it, I think the Arts Foundation has found that magical combination,” she said. “I think you need to have, for lack of a better word, skin in the game. And that’s where your local artists or people that are working in our community can take it to the level where it is.”

Pratch said a lot of the credit goes to the people of St. Paul for supporting their arts ventures. “We thank everybody that came out to support The Nutcracker,” she said. “That’s really important to us. You can’t put a performance on if there’s no people in the seats.”

The live performances have finished their run, but it’s not too late to catch the 10th anniversary St. Paul Nutcracker. The show has been filmed, and the finished video production will be shown at Elite Theatre December 30.

Beautiful dance and colourful sets brought the stage at All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Cultural Centre to life. Photos by JEFF GAYE