THE NUTCRACKER WITH BALLET WEST at Atwood Concert Hall

These are not the holidays without the Nutcracker! The Anchorage Concert Association’s production of The Nutcracker with Ballet West ran from November 29 to December 1 at the Alaska Center for Performing Arts. Ballet West, the first dance company to perform The Nutcracker at the Alaska Center for Performing Arts, returns to the ACPA stage for the 30th anniversary of The Nutcracker in Anchorage. Featuring Ballet West and local talent from the Alaska Dance Theater, the Anchorage Concert Association tells this beautiful holiday classic through extraordinary settings and stunning costumes. The most amazing part? An entire story has been told without a single word spoken.

Clara’s iconic role was played by two local Anchorage dancers: Siobhan Witty-Daugherty and Libby Jabaay. These two talented young performers were also incredibly well spoken for being only 12 years old. When asked how they most resembled their character Clara, Siobhan replied, “The way she interacts with the prince and how much she appreciates him. How happy she is!” with Libby adding, “We’re on the transition from being kids and getting old. Clara is between playing with her friends and siblings and going out on her own and having her own dreams.”

Playing Clara was surely a dream come true for Siobhan and Libby. Their favorite part of the performance was having the chance to perform with the Ballet West Dancers. Libby said that she and Siobhan have played Party Girls in previous productions of The Nutcracker, and having the chance to play Clara was both rewarding and humbling. “It’s so surreal,” Siobhan said of the iconic role.

The two girls agreed that the experience helped influence the way they dance. “It has helped us to be more independent, we have to know what we do with our role. And it has really helped us in our acting!” said Libby. “It helped our presentation a lot. Even if you do a solo without a big plot, we can use that experience and what we’ve learned to make that solo more magical,” Siobhan said, reflecting on the role.

Both girls said the acting required for the role was the hardest part. “Acting is really demanding,” said Siobhan. “A lot of times Clara doesn’t have that much of an actor. The scene where we break the Nutcracker uses a lot of actor.” “The role is really demanding. We have to be really sure about the choreography because there are scenes where people ask you for clues. You still have to remember the choreography and stay in the character, even if you forget or fall. Libby added with a smile.

When asked what advice they have for young ballerinas who dream of playing Clara someday, Libby replied, “Always believe in yourself. Courage to know how to do this and know how to handle it.” with Siobhan adding, “Enjoy it. It goes really fast. The production feels long when you watch it, but it goes really fast on stage, so make sure you take advantage!”

This magical holiday show was sponsored by ConocoPhillips Alaska, Alaska Daily News and Westmark Anchorage Alaska.


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