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Salisbury High School will debut its production of “The Nutcracker” virtually

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – Salisbury High School’s dance program is looking to kick off a new holiday tradition this year with the world’s most recognizable ballet.

“The Nutcracker,” a staple of ballet companies and orchestras worldwide during the Christmas season, is getting ready for its first production at Salisbury High School with a twist. A recording of the program will be posted to social media by Dec. 22 in lieu of a live performance. The production had to work around some other challenges as well. All the dancers had to wear masks during filming.

The other challenge is working around two groups of students.

Half the dance students attend in-person Monday and Tuesday; the other half attend Thursday and Friday. As a result, SHS dance teacher Krystal Stukes said she split the pieces between the two groups. Stukes said the curriculum is ballet-based during the fall to prepare for a holiday production.

This is also the first time some of the students have been exposed to dancing at all, and ballet in particular is strict. Moves are all done a particular way and students have to learn correct posture before they can begin.

“It’s very disciplined, so everything is definite,” Stukes said. “There are no in-betweens with ballet.”

But recording, she said, is a more relaxed way to put the production together.

Freshman Zyion Clinding said she danced between 2013 and 2017 and recently got back into it. Clinding said she had other activities such as track and cheerleading to keep her occupied but wanted to get back into dance when she started high school.

“It’s bringing out the best in me,” Clinding said, adding dance is an outlet to express herself.

Senior Kamiya Cauthen said she has never danced before. She decided to try it as a way to experience something new during her last year.

“I just took it because it’s something different,” Cauthen said.

The music was pre-recorded because of challenges rehearsing and performing during the pandemic, but the hope is for the school’s band program to accompany future performances.

Band Director Mallory Norton said a piano will be able to fill in the string parts of the ballet. While students would start with a stripped-back arrangement, the goal would be to eventually have them playing the original Tchaikovsky composition.

Senior Anna Gillespie and junior Kennedie Davis are band students who helped run lights for the show. Both said it was a new experience and that they were learning on a complicated lighting system.

The program is made possible through community support, which helped purchase costumes. Stukes said the hope is to accumulate more costumes and equipment over the years to build on the production.

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