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‘The Nutcracker’ ballet graces local stage Saturday

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Brooke Perry
Correspondent 

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and a classical ballet Christmas at that. 

This weekend, Step N’ Time School of Dance Arts is performing its seventh annual production of “The Nutcracker.”

It may seem easy to put on a classic show, but Lisa Calderone explained it is no small feat.

“They started working on it at the beginning of September, and practiced two to four days a week in addition to their regular dance classes,” said Calderone, who handles the studio’s advertising and marketing. 

Directors Heather White Hager and Suzanne Gray have put a lot of hard work into the classic show, which is the story of a girl whose recently gifted nutcracker comes to life.

Preparations for the performance start with auditions, learning the choreography, compiling the costumes (all are handmade by Sue Collins,), finding music and then setting up props and lighting and ordering backdrops. 

About 40 School of Dance Arts student-dancers and 15 backstage hands and helpers put on the show. Dancers range from ages 4 to 18 years old. But parents perform in the party scenes, as well as older students who want to continue a tradition.

“Many girls (who) have already graduated high school and are in college come back to participate in some of the core pieces,” Calderone said. “The younger students are excited this week, most of the older ones are getting nervous, but more than anything they’re just really thrilled.”

The studio also did a few things differently this year. A guest artist will portray the Sugar Plum Fairy. And Joe’s Family Restaurant is sponsoring a party for 16 sponsors, which will include pictures with costumed cast members.

On Friday, the cast will perform Act II for five Citrus County elementary schools, which has been a pre-show tradition for three years now.

“I enjoy The Nutcracker personally, because it makes me feel like it’s the holidays,” Calderone said, who has had at least one child in the show for the past seven years. “Even though we live in a small town and it’s a small studio, we really put on a first-class performance.”

The show will be at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Curtis Peterson Auditorium in Lecanto. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door or over the phone from the studio with a credit card by calling 352-637-4663. 

Audience members can visit sponsor tables at 5 p.m. until the doors open for seating at 5:30 p.m. The show will begin at 6 p.m.