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DALA presents a magical Nutcracker ballet

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By Kirsten Laskey

I've seen my fair share of "The Nutcracker" ballet. When my sister took ballet classes in high school, I watched her perform as a Spanish dancer, a snowflake and a flower for several years. Also, I have viewed the Denver Ballet Company's rendition of the ballet.

After these frequent viewings, I was ready to take a break from this particular ballet. The Dance Arts Los Alamos' production changed my mind.

From the choreography and dancing to the sets and the costumes, the show put the magic back into this often-told tale.

The enormous cast, 93 in all, all effectively presented the story of Clara (Stacia Paglieri), who after receiving a nutcracker doll from her godfather as a Christmas gift, dreams of traveling with the doll to the Land of Sweets.

A few standouts included DALA dancer Andrew Silks and Houston Ballet dancer Shelby Williams. Silks was dynamic and exciting as the Cavalier and Williams seemed to float across the stage as the Sugarplum Fairy.

Additionally, Shelby Stringer and Gabe Wadt sizzled as they performed the Arabian dance.

The real show-stealers, though, were the young dancers. Whether they were dressed as toy soldiers, mice or angels, the children showed their skills as actors and dancers.

It is easy to see the dance company put a lot of effort into the production and were very successful in presenting this delightfully sweet story. They even includes a few special effects such as an expanding Christmas tree, a shower of snowflakes and rolling mist.

DALA definitely puts the sugar on top of the holiday season with this ballet.

"The Nutcracker" will be performed at 2 p.m. today at Duane Smith Auditorium. Tickets cost $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and students, and $8 for children 12 and younger, and are available at CB Fox in Los Alamos, Smith's in White Rock, from Dance Arts Los Alamos and at the door before each performance. For more information, call 672-9462.