HomeNews‘Nutcracker’ marks first COVID-era performance with on stage dancers for CHS

‘Nutcracker’ marks first COVID-era performance with on stage dancers for CHS

Published Dec. 14, 2020

By MICHAEL LAKIND

An indefinite artistic hiatus came to an end this December. For the first time since March, Carmel High School dancers will be putting out a show in which performers are onstage together in an abridged version of “The Nutcracker” that will be released this week. 

Following the distance-conscious reinstatement of athletic conditioning in early November, visual and performing arts teachers felt a spark of optimism that their programs might be allowed to return. 

After spending much of the first semester confined to filming dances individually and having them edited together, CHS dance instructor Kristine Tarozzi jumped on the opportunity to be at least somewhat unified. 

“At first, students were going to film at a certain location around the Monterey Peninsula individually,” Tarozzi explains. “After seeing that the after-school athletic conditioning program was working at CHS, I contacted [CHS principal] Jon Lyons to see if the students could film in small groups, the largest group being six dancers.” 

The “Nutcracker” performance will still be presented digitally, but having full dance scenes performed in the same space instead of in separate frames is a huge leap forward for performing arts cohorts. All of these groups are eager to get back in action, while accounting for all of the necessary precautions. CHS senior Madison Hart helmed the project as its director, putting her extensive ballet experience and four years of dance at CHS to good use. 

“Directing in the hybrid model of production was practically impossible at first, but like everyone else, we had to adapt,” Hart says. “Luckily, art is conducive to an ever-changing world, so in some ways we have inspired new methods of teaching and choreography we never would have fathomed without the pandemic.”

While still performing in multiple scenes herself, senior Hannah Lyon is responsible for editing together all of the footage into a cinematic recording. This is not her first rodeo in that regard, having been the video-editing expert for all of the dance shows since distance learning began. 

“It’s a rewarding experience to be involved in a different behind-the-scenes aspect,” says Lyon. “It’s an opportunity I wouldn’t have had if I was performing with Dance Kids of Monterey County.”

Typically, “The Nutcracker” is put on at the Sunset Center with two local dance organizations: Dance Kids of Monterey County and Peninsula Ballet Company. Both of these productions have featured CHS dance students many years over, so the show holds a special place in many Padres’ hearts. Today’s conditions did not allow for these two companies to host the show as per Monterey Peninsula tradition, but CHS dancers have the chance to make up for this letdown. 

Though distanced, CHS dancers aim to find some togetherness with their rendition of “The Nutcracker.” (courtesy of Madison Hart)

Looking at dance and visual and performing arts as a whole, coming back to some semblance of a regular way to perform is immeasurably meaningful to CHS students. To some, dance is an escape and a fun way to get moving in an otherwise-stationary schedule, but to others it’s a major facet of who they are. 

“Personally, I am a new student entering Carmel High after doing independent studies, so it was such an awesome experience to meet my fellow classmates in person,” says junior Alexa Julian, who plays Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy in the upcoming show. “With the return of VAPA, I am able to feel aligned with my classmates while staying safe and cautious.”

“The Nutcracker” performed by CHS Dance will be published for viewing on PadreTV during the school week of Dec. 14-18.

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