Local academy presents Nutcracker

Russian ballet teaches dancers discipline, professionalism
by: photos courtesy of Brittany Rea From left, Desiree Root and Kayla Adams rehearse a Russian dance for Mt. Hood Dance Academy’s upcoming production of ‘The Nutcracker.’

When she was about 2 or 3 years old, Desi Root saw her older sister, Alyssa, dance in Tchaikovsky's Christmas classic 'The Nutcracker.'

'I just remember telling my mom it was something I wanted to be a part of, and the girls were beautiful, and I wanted to do it,' she says.

Root's dream will come true this Saturday at Reynolds High School when she dances several parts, including that of Dew Drop, in Mt. Hood Dance Academy's 17th annual production of 'The Nutcracker.'

A sophomore at Barlow High School, Root, 15, says she's excited to take the stage along with 39 other students from the academy.

'It's just a beautiful thing to be a part of, and it gives you a great feeling when you go on stage and can pull it off,' she says.

Kayla Adams, 13, of Vancouver will perform a number of different roles as well, including that of the Snow Queen, and she shares Root's sentiments.

'It's not just about dancing,' she says of 'The Nutcracker.' 'It's theater and dancing, and it's just so much fun being with all the girls. I love performing theater and dancing.'

Young professionals

Debbie Pierce, the academy's ballet department director, says the Mt. Hood production is distinguished by the youthfulness of its cast members, who range in age from 5 to 15.

'It's a huge commitment,' she says, noting the students have been rehearsing for hours on end. 'They learn to how to polish and perfect something and present that in a professional manner.'

Adams agrees.

'I'm really young, and it's exciting to be as young as I am and to have such a big lead because girls as young as I am don't usually have such a big role.'

She and Root say their multiple roles have stretched their talents.

'There's a lot of rehearsal with learning your cues and learning how to synchronize with all the other dancers,' Root says.

Adams adds that she's become a physically stronger dancer by rehearsing 'The Nutcracker' and has to 'keep my posture up in the right way.'

Kendra Jones, 13, an eighth-grader at Reynolds Middle School, has been studying dance for eight years and will perform such roles as the lead Candy Cane in 'The Nutcracker.' She says it's quite a responsibility.

'I'm basically the lead, and you have to know all your counts,' she says. 'The others watch for you, and you have to know all your timing.'

The payoff, however, is worth all the hard work, she says, especially when she gets audience feedback following a show.

'Afterward, when you're in the lobby, and everyone comes up, and they're so happy and tell you that you did great, and they loved it - it makes me feel that I accomplished something really big.'