Eleanore Rollins, 12, dances as a Lavender Fairy in a rehearsal for “The Nutcracker.”

“Nutcracker” ballet offers its own Land of Sweets

When the lights are dimmed and the recorded strings are bowed, Clara and her friends will start their Christmas party.

And you could sit right next to them.

At 3 p.m. to 5, Saturday, Dec. 17 and Sunday, Dec. 18, Friday Harbor’s Salish Sea Ballet presents “The Nutcracker,” and a tea party at Brickworks. There will be no raised stage, just 12 tables that Clara, her nutcracker prince and others will dance in front of, at the same level.

“The audience will be totally immersed in the story,” said Salish Sea Ballet owner Jeanne Peihl.

In this classic rendition, Clara, played by 7-year-old Emerald Hurley, receives a present from her ominous uncle Drosselmeyer, played by Peihl’s husband.

“I show everyone the nutcracker at the party and in the audience,” said Hurely.

When the house goes to sleep, Clara’s toys awake and her nutcracker, played by 9-year-old Henry Jensen, ushers her to the Land of Sweets with waltzing flowers and the Sugar Plum Fairy, played by 9-year-old Lila Horn.

“The Sugar Plum Fairy is sort of like Clara’s host in the Land of Sweets,” said Eleanore Rollins, 12, who plays a Lavender Fairy. “Almost everything there is made of sugar.”

It’s the youth ballet company’s first performance outside the studio since it opened in 2013 and the first to require auditions. The performance includes 11 ballerinas from Peihl’s 12 weekly classes of about 50 San Juan students, overall.

“‘The Nutcracker’ is a traditional rite of passage for any ballet student for almost anyone in the world,” said Peihl, who has been a part of about five “Nutcracker” performances and has played characters like a child in the party scene to a dancing snowflake. For performers, the choreography will most likely come up again, at competitions or ballet company tryouts.

Regina Kammer, who has performed ballet for more than 20 years, plays Clara’s mom and the Dew Drop Fairy. The youngest ballerina is a 4-year-old party guest.

“When she comes out, she is so excited about being in ‘The Nutcracker,’ it just makes me smile,” said Kammer.

After the 45-minute, two-act performance, the audience will journey to their own Land of Sweets with holiday teas, candy canes and cookies at a sweets buffet, included in the ticket price. “Nutcracker” merchandise, like necklaces, books and Christmas ornaments will be sold, as well as photos with “Nutcracker” characters and audience members by Mark Gardner.

The Salish Sea Ballet has four levels of classes, which are based on skill, not age. Dancers transcend levels by meeting skill benchmarks. The school welcomes any skill level, but is certified to teach pre-professional ballet due to the length and intensity of classes.

Advance tickets are $28, or $23 for ages 8 and under. At the door, tickets are $33, or $28 for ages 8 and under. Two VIP tables of eight, closest to the 24-foot partitioned stage, are $365 each.

Purchase tickets at www.salishseaballet.com or call 298-1720 to arrange a time to buy them at the Airport Center studio.


Emerald Hurley, 7, and Henry Jensen,9, pose as their characters, Clara and The Nutcracker.

Staff photo/ Hayley Day Anabelle Mountford dances the Waltz of the Flowers, as Regina Kammer and Eleanore Rollins pose behind.