By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- A mouse king, a nutcracker prince and a sugar plum fairy are stopping for a visit in St. Lucie County when the St. Lucie Ballet performs "The Nutcracker" on Dec. 7 and 8 at the Sunrise Theatre.
"There will be 75 students performing in two acts," said Lydia Oquendo, ballet director.
The ballet academy, located in Port St. Lucie, recently opened another studio in Martin County. Students from both studios will perform the classic ballet.
The academy has performed the holiday favorite since 2005. The academy is renting professional backdrops from the Minnesota Ballet, and the costumes have been purchased over time. The color schemes and designs were created by Ms. Oquendo.
"Back then, we started with half a show," Ms. Oquendo said. "Over time, we've slowly built up the costumes and the scenery, and three years ago, were able to open as a full production at the Sunrise Theatre."
The first act will feature the party scene, battle scene and the journey through the snow forest. The second act will continue in the Land of Sweets.
The performance will also feature more than just dancing.
"There is a lot of acting in the production," she said. "The students had to learn how to mime and how to dramatize."
The party scene in the production was choreographed by Joyce Layton Hurley, a retired dancer who founded her own school in California.
"This shows the students they can use dance to express themselves," said Ms. Oquendo. "They gain so much self-esteem and self-awareness. It gives them a chance to explore their creative sides."
In addition, the dance academy will feature professional guest dancers in the production. Leah Gallas from the James Sewell Ballet in Minneapolis, Idael German from the Florida Classical Ballet Theatre in Palm Beach and Jean Hugues Feray and Joseph Bucheck from Ballet Florida in Palm Beach will all take the stage. Ms. Gallas will dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy with the ballet academy's own director, Rogelio Corrales.
She said she's looking forward to this year's performances.
"People really enjoy a traditional 'Nutcracker' performance," she said. "There is lots to see and experience for everyone."
"The Nutcracker" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 at the Sunrise Theatre, 117 S. 2nd St. in Fort Pierce. Tickets are $25 for seniors and students and start at $30 for adults.
For more information, call (772) 461-4884.