Dancers prepare for seasonal ‘Nutcracker’ performance

MILFORD — It’s the holiday season and time for yearly staples like treats, visits with Santa Claus and, of course, “The Nutcracker.”

High up on their toes with twirls and carefully placed choreography, members of the Diamond Dance Company have eagerly practiced for their upcoming “Nutcracker” performances.

Emily Dittman said she worked especially hard for this year’s play – she’s a lead dancer.

“It was hard work,” she said of a big audition that took place earlier in the year. “I’m kind of like the lead of the flowers, a friend of Dewdrop who is another lead.”

Although Emily is just 13-yearsold, she proudly added that she’s been dancing for about 10 years.

“I started real young. I’ve always had a passion for it. It’s another way to be creative. I like drawing, too, and dancing is a way of drawing with your feet,” Emily explained.

Dancing in groups such as the Diamond Dance Company helps her meet friends and work through “challenges in day to day situations.”

Director Misty Yencer said she has about 73 child dancers involved in this year’s play along with a myriamc-nutcracker-scened of volunteers, including parents.

Lee DeBaca, 40 of Dover, has two daughters enrolled in the program and says he’s volunteered for about seven years, the entire time they’ve been involved with Diamond Dance Company.

Mr. DeBaca is known as Drosselmeyer during “The Nutcracker.” His wife, Carie, also actively volunteers.

As this year’s Governess, she said she’s excited to support their daughters and the dance group.

“I think they enjoy the days we’re all at practice together. They look forward to our family rehearsals,” she said.

Much like other parents in the group, the DeBaca’s said they also help with props, set construction and other needs as they arise.

Ms. Yencer said, “Probably the most challenging part is getting our younger cast members to see how each smaller part plays a key component in the whole production.”

Baby Mouse, also known as 7-year- old Katelyn Joseph, didn’t seem phased by the challenge of dancing in a holiday gem such as “The Nutcracker.”

“It’s really fun because [I] get to be on the soldiers back and hitting it. It looks really real. Also, I get a bow on my tail,” she said.

Lead Arabian Emma Moorman, 13 of Milford, said she enjoys her character, too.

“Arabian is such a mysterious character. I love that it is not your typical ballet dance. I get to push myself in this dance. Along with the different dance moves I do, I try to make facial expressions to fit the character,” she said. “I think the Arabian character matches my dance style. This is the first dance I have done with a male partner. It is difficult to be in synch but also fun.”

Ms. Yencer said the results outweigh the challenges for the dancers.

“The rush that they get when they get out on stage and finally get to be able to show what they’ve learned… it’s a rush of endorphins I think,” she said. “They like showing others how proud of themselves they are.”

To top off the performance, cast members and family alike will be able to enjoy a cast party and holiday show with each other to celebrate their accomplishments.

The Diamond Dance Company will perform “The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast” in the spring to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the movie and the release of a new live action movie in March of 2017.

“We’ve found that connecting a piece of ballet with a piece of literature is beneficial for our dancers, but also for the schools,” Ms. Yencer said, adding that many schools visit with the dance company on field trips throughout the year.

“We use the opportunity to talk with the students, too, about needing all kinds of people behind the scenes. We use artists to paint our backdrops, people to run the sound board and lighting and engineers for set building,” she added.

The Diamond Dance Company will perform “The Nutcracker” for the public Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. at the Milford High School.

Tickets can be purchased for $20 at the premium level, $15 for adults and $10 for children 3-years- old and up, students and seniors 65-yearsold and up.

For more information, visit the group online at www.diamonddanceco. com.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at

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