Forest Grove senior dances her 11th year in Ballet Forest Grove's 'Nutcracker.'

COURTESY PHOTO - With about 250 dancers split into two casts, Ballet Forest Grove's 'Nutcracker' has become a holiday tradition for many."Nutcracker"

Four performances: Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10 and 11 at 1 and 6 p.m.

Forest Grove High School auditorium.

Tickets: $8-$10 at

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  • Aubrey McLoud sat outside the Ballet Forest Grove dance studio recently, a little teary-eyed after rehearsal.

    She'd just finished rehearsing for the group's upcoming "Nutcracker" production.

    When Ballet FG artistic director Patty Petersen checked in to make sure McLoud wasn't hurt, she said no, she was feeling sad this would be her last performances of the annual holiday show with Ballet Forest Grove.

    Ballet Forest Grove will present four performances Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" on Dec. 9 and 10 at Forest Grove High School.

    This year marks the 11th annual production for the group. It also marks McLoud's 11th year dancing in the show.

    From sweet memories performing as a bon-bon and a candy cane in The Land of Sweets, to soloing as the Arabian Princess and many other roles as she advanced in ballet technique, McLoud, a senior at Forest Grove High School, will dance the principal role this year as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

    "I've been a part of the Forest Grove dance community for years," McLoud said. "A lot of my fondest memories are here."

    It's all in the family, as her sister, 13-year-old Kamryn also dances for Ballet Forest Grove and her mom, Rainy McLoud, sits on the board of directors of the non-profit.

    Petersen, too, has memories of her dedicated ballerina. She remembers the first year she brought out a bear costume for the production.

    "Aubrey jumped on it," Petersen recalled. "The bear costume has big feet, big paws and holds a tambourine." But that didn't dissuade McLoud. She's always up for a challenge, Petersen said.

    McLoud joins about 250 other students (split into two casts) for this year's performances.

    Over the years, Petersen said, the show has grown from about 70 students and two performances at Pacific University's Taylor Meade Performing Arts Center to four sell-out shows at the FGHS auditorium — that's around 3,000 audience members.COURTESY PHOTO - Aubrey McLoud has danced many parts in Ballet Forest Grove's production of 'Nutcracker,' including here as the Arabian Princess. This year, her final year, she dances the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

    It's no small task to put on the show. It takes numerous volunteers, two 36-foot trucks to haul the props and costumes, and a good working relationship with the high school to squeeze into a busy schedule.

    Petersen said she loves how the production has become a community event and a holiday tradition for many families. "Even dads and grandpas come out loving it," she said.

    After her last dance, McLoud will finish her senior year and move on to college where she hopes to study chemistry. She also looks forward to returning in subsequent years to help out with the production.

    Kathy Fuller
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