Weeks before taking the stage to perform iconic scenes from "The Nutcracker," rehearsals are going on inside the Allegheny Ballet Company studio in Altoona.
"Stretch those legs long," Connor Kilian Weigand, artistic coordinator, calls out to four female students clad in pink tights and black leotards dancing with white-and-red striped hula hoops in front of the room's mirrored wall.
Next, he and Peirce Condo, 10, of Altoona, who will dance the role of the Prince this year, go over a scene where the Prince acts out the battle with the Mouse King that has led he and Clara to Sugarland.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
This year’s production of “The Nutcracker” by Allegheny Ballet Company features many local dancers, including Noah Mendum-Purdy, 15, of State College and Katarina Flores, 15, of Altoona.
Weigand tells him to think of the story's monologue in his head as he dances.
With his hand, Weigand tilts up Peirce's chin before he begins to dance, reminding him, as he did with other dancers, of the people that will be seated in the balcony seats.
Audience members will have all eyes on the stage beginning opening night at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14. The show will also be performed at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 and 1 p.m. Dec. 16.
If you go
What: "The Nutcracker," presented by Allegheny Ballet Company
Where: Mishler Theatre, 1208 12th Ave.
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 and 15 and 1 p.m. Dec. 16
Tickets: $23 for adults, $15 for children age 12 and younger and $19 for seniors age 65 and older. Available at the box office, by
calling 944-9434 or online at http://mishlertheatre.org.
This year marks ABC's 31st season putting on the holiday favorite.
Nearly 80 cast members will take to the stage for the production, which brings together community members with three professional dancers.
Guest performers are New York City Ballet principal dancer Jared Angle, former New York City Ballet dancer and School of American Ballet teacher Kaitlyn Gilliland and Indiana University of Pennsylvania dancer Grace Koury, playing Dewdrop.
Weigand said he was under the impression people will travel in from West Virginia and Maryland to catch the show.
Weigand is looking to add his own twist on the production, but stay true to the classic, he said.
The production has a "great group of kids" involved, he said.
Condo, a Juniata Gap Elementary student, has studied ballet since he was 3 or 4 years old, and has played the role of Party Boy and Fritz in years past, he said.
He especially enjoys the scene he practiced with Weigand, "because it's telling a story through your body's movements," he said.
Condo is looking forward to opening night, and believes it will be fun, he said.
Cianna Stone, 10, of Hollidaysburg will dance the role of Clara.
The Penn Mont Academy, Hollidaysburg, student has studied ballet since she was 2 years old, and danced in "The Nutcracker" since she was 4, she said. She has danced in the roles of Candy Cane, Clown and Angel, she said.
"I'm really excited to be it, and it's an honor," she said of dancing as Clara.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.