Video: Central Mass. Dancers Featured In 'The Nutcracker'

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WORCESTER, Mass. — "The Nutcracker" is back – sugar plum fairies and all – at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester this Friday. The ballet, famous for its memorable score and festive spirit, will feature many young dancers from the Central Mass. area, including Grafton and Shrewsbury.

Photo Album In Pictures: Preparing for 'The Nutcracker'

Among them is "Nutcracker" veteran Kelly Rourke of Grafton, performing in the ballet for the 10th year. "Every year it gets more and more exciting," she said.

This will also be Gabriella DiGiacomo's 10th year. "I'm so excited every year, and I can bring something new every year," said the Shrewsbury resident.

The ballet will be a "high-caliber performance in a world-class theater, featuring ballet professionals and rising stars from the Worcester area," Director Jennifer Agbay said.

The 2012 "Nutcracker" dance corps includes four professional guest artists from the Festival Ballet Providence, three professional dancers from Ballet Arts Worcester, and 140 Worcester-area dancers ranging in age from 7 to 21, including several members of the Youth Ballet of Worcester Company.

Dancer Sophia Calandra of Grafton said it feels "amazing" to be part of the production. Creating a character from movement was challenging, she said. "We practice a lot – we try to become that character."

The dancers completed 12 weeks of rehearsals. “'The Nutcracker' staff of Ballet Arts Worcester wants to provide the young dancers with an experience that is very close to working in a real-life dance company," Agby said.

The story of "The Nutcracker"  appeared in 1816 in a book of short tales by German writer Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann. It was adapted as a ballet that debuted in 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia, with music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. As for why "The Nutcracker" has been popular for generations, Rourke said: "Everyone can take something away from it. It gets me into the holiday spirit every year. Young and old can all enjoy it."

"The Nutcracker" plays from Nov. 23 to Nov. 25, with a special school performance Nov. 26. For ticket times and ticket information, go to the theater's website or call 1-877-571-7469.

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