Holiday season sparkles with ‘Nutcracker’ performances

RyLee Demianew, Ruby Engum and Austin Ford of the Pendleton Ballet Theatre are among the 30 local dancers presenting “The Nutcracker.” The performances are Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at Bob Clapp Theatre at Blue Mountain Community College.

A holiday favorite, “The Nutcracker” ballet will be presented by local dancers during a trio of shows to help usher in the season.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of performing the Christmas ballet in Pendleton. Presented by Pendleton Ballet Theatre under the direction of Julie SnedenCarlson, it features more than 30 dancers from age 4 through adults.

The local production initially began as a small show with narration and dancing. Over the years, SnedenCarlson added to the production. For the 10th anniversary, it will be presented close to its entirety. And, unlike most ballets, she said it will include some narration to enhance the audience experience.

The performances are Thursday, Nov. 30 and Friday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. It will be staged at Bob Clapp Theatre in Pioneer Hall at Blue Mountain Community College, 2411 N.W. Carden Ave., Pendleton. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children under 12.

“The Nutcracker,” SnedenCarlson said, is the story of a young girl who is just on the brink of womanhood. The show centers around a Christmas Eve party in a family’s home. The children are excited about the festive occasion, which includes music, dancing, a visit by a toymaker and the gift of a Nutcracker. Further activity includes fun costumes, a delightful journey and a lavish festival.

“‘The Nutcracker’ is full of magic and wonder on many levels,” SnedenCarlson said. “The magic of Christmas, the magic of enchanted dolls and snowflakes that come to life, but also the magic of coming of age.”

The story, SnedenCarlson said, is easy to follow, which isn’t always the case with major ballets. In addition, there are lots of sparkles, with the director creating most of the costuming.

“It is a wonderful Christmas tradition to share with friends, family or alone,” SnedenCarlson said.

The last of a trilogy of well-known ballets by the famous Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky, “The Nutcracker” was completed in 1892. It achieved popularity nearly a century later as a Christmas performance.

According to the history of “The Nutcracker,” it was staged exclusively in Russia until performances in 1934 in England. The full-length show was first brought to the United States in 1944, presented by the San Francisco Ballet.

SnedenCarlson founded the Pendleton Ballet Theatre as a studio and performance group dedicated to classical and contemporary ballet. A former professional ballerina, SnedenCarlson turned her focus to teaching — a job she loves — after a dancing injury.

Beyond teaching dance steps, SnedenCarlson said she has the opportunity to help kids learn about life through their desire to dance. Teamwork, perseverance, prioritizing, determination and self control are all essential through the process.

“Ballet gives dancers a place to voice their emotions, learn to control their bodies, and gives them a place to leave the drama of daily life at the door and escape into another world,” she said.

Advance tickets for “The Nutcracker” can be purchased Nov. 18, 20 and 27 from 5-7 p.m. in the old Mayson’s General Store, 369 S. Main St., Pendleton. Also, available tickets will be sold at the door. For more information, visit


Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at or 541-564-4539

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