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November 26, 2008 > Nutcracker comes to life

Nutcracker comes to life

By Emma Victoria G. Blanco

The time of year has come for us to enjoy perhaps the world's most popular ballet, "The Nutcracker." The original story "The Nutcracker and the King of Mice" was written by E.T.A. Hoffman, but the Nutcracker Ballet was actually based on a revision by renowned French author, Alexander Dumas. Although every dance company has performed its own choreographic interpretation the basic plot remains the same. Set to a memorable musical score composed by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, the Nutcracker Ballet has become a favorite holiday children's story, about a young German girl named Clara who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King.

The Nutcracker Ballet will once again come to life as Yoko's Dance and Performing Arts Company and the Fremont Symphony Orchestra collaborate for the fourth year in a row. Yoko Young will direct her dancers and David Sloss will conduct his musicians in this true-to-form performance of the Nutcracker Ballet. "Having the Fremont Symphony Orchestra play the music to accompany the dancers makes a big difference," exclaimed Young.

Young is the Director of Yoko's Dance and Performing Arts Academy, which was established in 1995 and is located in Fremont. Born in Tokyo, Japan, Young started dancing at age four and continued her studies in classical ballet under Sakiko Hirose at the Tokyo Ballet, Madame Messers of the Bolshoi Ballet and Ray Tobias of the New York City Ballet.

A self-professed perfectionist, Young wears many hats as an internationally acclaimed master teacher, choreographer and competition judge. She is also resolute in producing a professional show. "We must keep up the standard and maintain a professional performance," she stated. Her dedication and passion for dancing extends to her students, currently numbering 500 (with approximately a dozen boys), as young as five years old and who travel from cities near and far, including Alameda, Antioch and Santa Cruz.

"To be good at anything," Young noted on her school's website, "you have to work hard and be dedicated to continual improvement. I see this in every one of our dancers. Each one brings to the studio their own, unique passion for dance and we are all enriched for being part of this environment. But even more, this work ethic and dedication is reflected in their activities outside of dance. Many of our dancers are leaders among their peers at school and at other activities in their communities." She is proud that her dancers are disciplined. She firmly believes that there exists a real mind and body connection between dancing and academics. Young stated, "Good dancers are usually good students because something in the brain and dancing connects. It's the same kind of coordination, remembering routines and dancing to music."

Auditions for the Nutcracker were held in September and 100 dancers were ultimately selected.
This year two different girls will be performing the role of Clara: Clara Ma and Jessica Lester. Ma reprises the role and Lester is a former student of Yoko's who now dances with the San Francisco Ballet.

The audience will also delight in the special appearances by local officials and a celebrity dancer. Once again, Fremont's City Council members are cast in the ballet's opening party scenes. Current Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman as well as council members Steve Cho, Anu Natarajan, Bill Harrison and Bob Wieckowski have all participated in previous shows.

Bryan Ketron will perform the role of the cavalier, a character most noted for the finale dance of Pas De Deux with the Sugar Plum Fairy. Ketron has danced with The Oakland Ballet, Ballet San Jose, Robert Moses'KIN, the San Diego Opera, the Smuin Ballet and the San Francisco Opera.

What has become a fantastic tradition, Yoko's Dance Academy's annual performance of the Nutcracker will surely entertain the young and the young at heart this holiday season.

After each of the matinee performances, children are invited to attend the Sugar Plum Party, presented the Fremont Symphony Orchestra. There will be special holiday treats and children will have the opportunity to have their pictures taken with the costumed dancers. Tickets to the Sugar Plum Party are $6. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Nutcracker Ballet
Performed by Yoko's Dance and Performing Arts Academy
Accompanied by the Fremont Symphony Orchestra
Friday, December 5
7 p.m.
Saturday, December 6
2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday, December 7
2 p.m.
Smith Center for the Performing Arts at Ohlone College
43600 Mission Blvd, Fremont
(510) 659-6031 or (510) 794-1659
www.fremontsymphony.org

Admission: $43-$48 adults, $20 children/students
Group discounts available for groups of 10 or more
Tickets can be purchased at the Smith Center Box Office (510) 659-6031, the Fremont Symphony Office (510) 794-1659 or online at www.fremontsymphony.org.

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