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Nutcracker whirls on stage

A Christmas tradition since the 1960’s, the Nutcracker has captivated American audiences year after year with its enchanting story, impressive choreography, and powerful musical score. Now, the magic is coming to Palomar in a performance presented by the North County Classical Ballet.

“We feel like The Nutcracker is part of history, part of the culture in many, many, countries,” said Valeri Tchekachev, one of the ballet’s directors. “It’s considered a big celebration, a family tradition.”

Tchekachev will be directing the performance with his wife Tatiana Tchekacheva. Both are world class ballet performers and grew up and built their ballet careers in Russia before moving to the U.S 10 years ago. They started North County Classical Ballet studio five years ago, and have been producing ballet performances in the North County ever since.

Playing the role of the Nutcracker prince is 23-year-old Lester Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been a professional dancer for five years, most of which was spent in Cuba, where he grew up. “When dancing with students, they are learning, so I try to help them to dance well and to get into the professional environment,” he said.

The Sugar Plum Fairy is being played by Katie Shoffner, 16. “This will be my fourth year as Sugar Plum,” said Shoffner. “When you are a young dancer and you think about Nutcracker you dream of dancing the role of Sugarplum one day and I’m so grateful to my teachers for giving me the opportunity to dance such a special role at my age.”

Rehearsal for the ballet started in September. “We were anticipating having our production in December so we haven’t had as much time to rehearse as we normally do, but our students are doing an excellent job,” said Tchekachev

The performers will be from all ages and reflect a diversity in skill level. “Our very youngest students this year are just three years of age,” said Tchekachev. “One of our oldest students is just 16 years old and has trained very hard for almost seven years with us.”

There will be two showings, both on Nov. 19. The early showing will be from 1 to 3 p.m., and the later showing will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are available from between $20-$25 at the Howard Brubeck Theatre box office, or by calling 760-744-1153 ext. 2453.

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