12/24/2015 10:26:00 AM Local dancers perform in The Nutcracker ballet
by Betsy Frazier
Three dance students at the Cannon Falls School of Dance recently performed in the classic Christmas production of The Nutcracker, staged at the Rochester Civic Center Presentation Hall.
The three, Francesca Dewanz, Ryanna Karstens and Anna Dubbels auditioned for the show back in August, and were chosen to dance in several scenes. They have been rehearsing for four months.
"Because I love to dance and it was a big opportunity," was how eight-year-old Francesca Dewanz described the experience. This is her second year dancing with the Rochester Dance Company in The Nutcracker. The company production gives young dancers the opportunity to work with professional dancers. Francesca's parents are Dan and Sara Dewanz.
Francesca appeared as a cute little mouse and also a sugar plum fairy attendent. She described her parts this way:
"I liked the mouse role because it's a lot of fun on stage. Being a sugar plum fairy attendent was new to me this year. I loved having a tutu, like the Sugar Plum Fairy!"
When asked if she plans to be in the production next year, she replied, "yes, very much so!"
Ryanna Karstens, daughter of Ryan and Dawn Karstens, is in fifth grade, She was in four scenes. This was also her second year dancing in The Nutcracker with the Rochester Dance Company.
Ryanna has been dancing for seven years, starting when she was four. She has several dance classes each week, including a jazz 3 class and an Irish 2 class, plus her ballet classes.
Her practice sessions for The Nutcracker started with a ballet boot camp experience in August, where warm ups and bar work were emphasized. She is very dedicated to dance and enjoys every minute of her lessons and practice time.
In the production, Ryanna was a toy soldier and a dancer in the big Polichinelle scene. She had major make-up and costume changes. Volunteer parents were back stage to assist the dancers being transformed from one character to another.
Ryanna described the production as "the biggest show I've ever danced in." The cast had 55 members. There were three school performances, one show for special education students and three public performances. Ryanna's dad, Ryan, noted that many miles were logged driving the girls to and from rehearsals throughout fall.
Anna Dubbels is 11 years old and has been dancing since age two. Anna's parents are Mark and Brenda Dubbels.
"I have danced in many recitals and competitions, but this was my first ballet production. I loved performing on the big stage," Anna said.
She had five roles in The Nutcracker, cast as a party girl, a candy cane, a Chinese dancer, a snowflake and a friend of Clara in the Polichinelle scene.
"My favorite part of the experience was dancing alongside professional ballerinas during the performances.
"I am in dance class for 12 hours each week. I plan to continue dancing for a very long time. Dancing makes my heart happy!" Anna said.
That happy heart is displayed by all three girls as they describe their love of dancing.
The Cannon Falls School of Dance will be joining the Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra in a production of Peter and the Wolf, March 5 and 6, 2016. Later in the spring, Ryanna and Francesca will have parts in the Rochester Dance Company's production, which includes excerpts from Swan Lake.