The Sea Island Nutcracker retrospective

The Waltz of the Sea Kelp / Photographer: Steve Alboucq

On Friday, Dec. 8, Orcas Island’s very own production of the Sea Island Nutcracker opened to a full house. The show is being put on by the Orcas Dance Collective, hosted by the Orcas Center, and directed by Stephanie Moss. This is the first full-length ballet ever performed on Orcas Island, and so it is fitting that it is both based on an absolute classic and sprinkled with nautical themes that make the island so unique.

In this version, Clara is taken into the magical realm of the Sea Captain Nutcracker. She encounters dancing bioluminescence, water sprites, otters, great blue herons, a school of rockfish, an octopus fairy, waltzing sea kelp, a mother jellyfish, and the sea star fairy in place of the more traditional sweets and delicacies from the originals.

Ballet in general is a visually impressive medium. From the dancers, to the sets, to the music, and the costuming, it is always remarkable when a production is fully put together. The Sea Island Nutcracker was no different. In the transition between Act I and Act II, a Christmas tree grows beyond belief as Clara, our protagonist, enters the magical realm of the Sea Island Kingdom. This requires a large Christmas tree to be built which can then be pulled up for the transition, which was accomplished beautifully in this production by Jamey Moriarty, the head of set design, and Stephanie Iverson who worked specifically on this significant set piece. This was just one of the many different set pieces that made the performance impressive, especially in our small community.

Along with the set design, the costumes were absolutely stunning. Changing every scene, with many of the same dancers playing different parts throughout the show, only distinguished by their costumes. It was truly a jaw-dropping sight when each scene after the next, the costumes became even more stunning. In a ballet, costuming is essential to the story because there are no words to provide us with context, and so it must all be visually inferred. The costumes designed and produced by Tiffany Loney and Laura Graham definitely accomplished this, going from brightly colored late Victorian party wear in the first act to flowing, glittering, and glowing costumes representing the various sea life in the last act.

The dancers were also stunning, with a wide range of ages and skill levels. The performers absolutely did justice to the quintessential ballet, as well as Tchaikovsky’s well-known composition. They performed beautifully, and principal dancers Bianca Cox and Maddy Sonshine as the snow queen, Moose Kinsey as Cavalier, Rada Ashirov and Alma Youngren as Clara, and Sylvia Johnson and Ellie Wright as the Sea Star Fairy shone breathtakingly.

Orcas Dance Collective directors and dancers, the Orcas Center, and all the volunteers who tirelessly worked have done an undoubtedly spectacular job. More information about the Dance Collective can be found on their social media sites under the name Orcas Dance Collective.

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