2014-11-28 / Community

‘Nutcracker’ performer a South Portland resident

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

South Portland resident Jillian Jacobson, a senior at Catherine McAuley High School, practices the “Sugar Plum Fair Dance” from “The Nutcracker” last Saturday at Scarborough Dance Center in Scarborough. Jacobson has been dancing for more than a dozen years. (Michael Kelley photo) South Portland resident Jillian Jacobson, a senior at Catherine McAuley High School, practices the “Sugar Plum Fair Dance” from “The Nutcracker” last Saturday at Scarborough Dance Center in Scarborough. Jacobson has been dancing for more than a dozen years. (Michael Kelley photo) SCARBOROUGH – Staging a performance of “The Nutcracker” has been a lifelong dream for Melissa Willey, owner of Scarborough Dance Center. Next week, her dream will come true as the dance center puts a new spin on a seasonal favorite. The center’s performance of The Nutcracker, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 6 at noon and 4 p.m. at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center, will showcase much more than just ballet. It will include hiphop, jazz, tap and other modern dance styles as well as local dancer, South Portland resident Jillian Jacobson, a featured soloist.

“We have wanted to do “The Nutcracker” for a long time,” Willey said during a break in a rehearsal, Saturday, Nov. 22. “As a professional dancer, I feel it can be a little boring at parts, so we want to spice it up. We want to make it enjoyable for everybody. We want to incorporate other styles of dance because I think the music calls for other styles, not just ballet.”

The ballet, scored in 1892 by Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky, is based on a story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” by E.T.A. Hoffman. The ballet tells the tale of Clara, who receives a nutcracker doll from her godfather. After Christmas night begins, Clara falls asleep on the couch and dreams her nutcracker comes to life. After a battle with the Mouse King and army of mice, the nutcracker and Clara visit the land of snow and then, the land of sweets. The ballet concludes with Clara realizing it was all a dream.

It is a favorite for dance companies and theaters to put on this time of year.

Scarborough High School junior Emma Hartl has never performed in the show before, but is quite familiar with it.

“It is a tradition for me and my mom to go to different cities and companies that perform ‘The Nutcracker.’ It is our favorite holiday tradition,” said Hartl, who will be performing in “The Waltz of the Flowers,” “The Waltz of the Snowflake,” and as an oversized doll that comes to life at the party scene.

“I am really excited to put our studio’s spin on something that is a classic,” Hartl said.

Ella Dumont-Charpentier, an eighthgrader at Scarborough Middle School, is also excited to perform in “The Nutcracker” for the first time.

Dumont-Charpentier, 13, has been dancing for more than 10 years and doesn’t “remember what it is like not to dance.” Dumont-Charpentier will be also be performing in “The Waltz of the Flowers,” as well as a party girl in the opening scene.

Staging “The Nutcracker” has been a big time commitment for Jillian Jacobson, 17, a senior at Catherine McAuley High School in Portland and a resident of South Portland.

Jacobson said between her rehearsals for “The Nutcracker” and Scarborough Dance Center’s competitive dance team, she trains 22 hours a week. Yet, it is a labor of love for Jacobson, who is performing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Marzipan in the production.

“I have a passion for dance,” said Jacobson, a dancer since since she was 3. “I’ve always loved it since I was little. I tried other things, but always kept dancing. When I serious in high school, I decided I’d only dance.”

Willey said when she was thinking about casting the show, she knew she wanted Jacobson as a featured dancer. The Sugar Plum Fairy is considered one of the most coveted roles in “The Nutcracker.”

“You deserve it,” Willey said looking at Jacobson prior to a run through the second act of the show.

“She is one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever taught. It shows. It shows how much she loves it,” Willey told her other dancers.

The role, Jacobson said, has been a welcome challenge.

“I think it is really fun because it gets you in the Christmas spirit. The role of Sugar Plum Fairy is really challenging, but I like it,” she said.

Kaylee Faherty, an eighth-grader at Scarborough Middle School, has also been challenged by her role of Clara.

“It’s been a lot to remember, but it is a lot of fun to do,” said Flaherty, 13, who has been dancing for a decade.

Like Hartl, Flaherty has seen “The Nutcracker” several times and was excited to finally get to perform it herself.

The show, which dancers started working on in September, features 70 dancers from ages 3 to 60. Despite the hectic schedule preparing for the show, Casey Maddock, 11, has enjoyed the experience.

“It’s more time with my second family,” said Maddock, who is in sixth grade at Scarborough Middle School.

Jacobson said she has enjoyed working alongside some of the younger dancers.

“It’s really nice to have the little kids involved because they can see what they want to be when they grow up,” Jacobson said. “I remember when I was younger I looked up to the bigger ballerinas and it really inspired me. I want to inspire other kids to keep dancing.”

For more information about the show, or to purchase tickets, call 883-4569 or visit www.scarboroughdancecenter.com.

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