Monday | November 20, 2017
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Holiday ballet at the Palace

The Big Island’s only production of “The Nutcracker” will be performed by Island Dance Academy today through Sunday at the Palace Theater in Hilo.

“The Nutcracker” ballet was first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Dec. 18, 1892. The composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who had had previous success with his score for “Sleeping Beauty,” was commissioned by choreographer Marius Petipa to write the music for this new ballet. The story is based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s book, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” written in 1816.

In the story, Clara receives an enchanted nutcracker from her Godfather Drosselmeyer. At midnight, the nutcracker comes to life and must battle a huge gang of rats. Clara saves his life by distracting the Rat King. The nutcracker’s enchantment is broken, and he once again becomes a prince. In gratitude, he takes Clara through the Land of Snow and Ice, to the Kingdom of the Sweets, where she is the guest of honor.

Angels herald Clara and the Prince’s arrival in the Land of Snow and Ice, where the Snow Queen is danced by Malia Okimura.

In the Kingdom of the Sweets, the Sugarplum Fairy regales her guests with Spanish Chocolate (Tina Chow), Chinese Tea (Kiana Anderson, Zoi Nakamura, Kayla Yamada), and a bouquet of flowers, led by the Dew Drop Fairy (Tristan Maesaka).

Tap dancing soldiers, sword fighting combatants, whirling twirling dancers all take to the stage for one weekend only.

Island Dance Academy, under the direction of Suen Hughes, first began producing the full-length “Nutcracker” at the Palace Theatre in 1999.

Prior to that, Hughes had co-produced several “Nutcracker Suites” — “The Overture” and “Act 2” of the full-length ballet.

There will be 70 dancers performing this year. Six of the dancers, who play the boy “parents” in Act 1, and also the main role of the Nutcracker, are University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hilo High and Waiakea High school students. The remaining dancers are all from Island Dance Academy’s select performance group.

The cast is split into two groups with one group performing on Friday and Sunday, and the other on Saturday.

Katharine Hong and Sara Tollestrup share the role of the Sugarplum Fairy. Marisa Dela Cruz and Tatiana Ferreira are Clara, with Kyleigh Corpuz and Milan Ragasa dancing the part of their pesky brother Fritz. Robert Saludares and Rylen Corpuz are the heroic nutcracker princes, who fight the evil Rat King, Zahaia Anderson.

Godfather Drosselmeyer is once again played by Peter Hughes. He has a treasure trove of delights for the party guests: gingerbread cookies, mechanical soldiers, Pierrot and Pierrine dolls (Zahaia Anderson and Ginger Carlson, Anne Nakamoto and Lauren Okinaka) and a beautiful ballerina doll (Keala Bernabe, Kylie Nakano). And of course, presents for the children.

There will be three performances: today and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Palace Theater in downtown Hilo.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for children 12 and under. They are available at the Most Irresistible Shop and at the Palace Theater box office which is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays. Credit card orders may be placed by calling the Palace at 934-7010.

This is a co-production with the historic Palace Theater. A generous portion of the proceeds goes to the theater and its renovation projects.

For more information, contact Hughes at 961-3622 or at


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