It’s not Christmas without ‘The Nutcracker’ |

It’s not Christmas without ‘The Nutcracker’

Photo by Digital DimensionsAbove: Danse Arts Theatre Company's new piece, "Dancing Into Christmas 2008," features all kinds of Christmas staples, most notably bits taken from "The Nutcracker." The show dances into Glenwood Saturday and Sunday.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Danielle Yost has been studying the melodies of “The Nutcracker” daily since August. DeAnna Anderson spent about three decades dancing in the show. Once, Alexandra Jerkunica performed it for 17 straight days.

If anyone should be sick of this ubiquitous yuletide tradition, it would be these ladies of the Danse Arts Theatre Company.

Instead, they’re cheerleaders for it.

“It’s a magical ballet,” said Jerkunica, making it sound all new again.

As the prima ballerina for Danse Arts’ “Dancing Into Christmas 2008,” that’s her job. The 50-plus person performance includes several “Nutcracker” pieces, as well as a tap and jazz revue of sorts, featuring several classic Christmas numbers. Though the show revisits some of the most well-known songs and dances around, the result is far from stodgy. As Jerkunica sees it, this show can make a real difference to people this time of year.

“I think it just takes you out of your everyday life routine and puts you in the spirit of celebrating and giving,” she said.

She knows the feeling first-hand. Even the opening music for “The Nutcracker” still gives her goose bumps, she explained ” and that’s from a woman who’s been in the show since she was 3.

“It’s just in my blood,” she said.

Though relatively new to the “Nutcracker” scene, Yost knows just what it means to feel that strongly about something. A Glenwood local, she’s been dancing for the last 14 years and loves it. Now, in addition to the parts she plays in “Dancing,” she’s also the show’s co-artistic director and choreographer, along with Dina Duckworth.

“I’m excited to perform it,” she said, with only a slight bit of weariness to her smile.

She’s been working hard, steeped in the Christmas spirit for months already, by the way.

But, for her, getting to perform makes that all worth it. Calling dance “the best outlet for enjoyment” she’s ever found, she loves seeing someone on-stage who’s obviously enamored with what they do.

“It gives you chills. It makes you strive to continue,” she said.

This weekend, she hopes to give her audience just that.

As Anderson, the company’s founder, put it, “We want people to be walking out clapping their hands, singing Christmas songs.”

That’s what “The Nutcracker” still manages to do for her. Talking like a proud mama, she described how wonderful it is to watch her students and company members perform the time-honored show.

“I think it’s spectacular,” she said, her voice saturated with actual wonder. “It’s colorful. It’s fun. The music is great, and the dancers are awesome.”

And this year, it’s right in Glenwood. With the local high school’s auditorium finally completed, the show is “home” again, Anderson said. Hopefully, that will be enough to entice lots of people to it this year ” and she hopes it brings in more than just happy parents and dance buffs. This time around, she wants to get everyone out, even those who think the show isn’t for them. Between the dancing and costumes, lavish sets and familiar music, she promised that it has a lot more to offer than people realize.

“Give it a chance,” she urged. “There’s something they’ll like about it.”

Then she smiled wide and dove into more “Nutcracker” memories, of which she has so many.

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