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‘Nutcracker:’ More than meets the eye

December 2, 2011

Instructor Dennis Wayne teaches local youngsters some of the moves he choreographed for the upcoming production of “The Nutcracker” in Bishop. Photo courtesy Kevin Mazzu

Local dance instructor Dennis Wayne is planning a revolutionized rendition of one of the holiday season’s most famous and well-known ballets, which he hopes will become a hometown tradition for years to come.
Wayne will be presenting the classic “Nutcracker” story with a modern twist Dec. 16-18 at the Bishop High School Auditorium.
“Nutcracker 2011 will be an entirely new and different version,” Wayne said in October, when he was asking all interested children and adults to audition. “The music will be a combination of the original Tchaikovsky score mixed with songs/music by recognizable artists of today.”
In addition to updating the music, Wayne, a world-renowned ballet dancer and producer, is choreographing his own moves to the revamped production.
Wayne also said there will be some changes in the cast of characters.
“The doll dancers will be Barbie dolls, Spider-Man, Transformers and Taylor Swift,” Wayne said. “The soldiers will be Ninjas, not with rifles, but with laser guns. I’m trying to make it entertaining and still tell the story, but I have a few twists.”
The roll of Drosselmeier will be played by Bishop resident Andrew Hallenbeck.
As Drosselmeier the magician, Hallenbeck will perform in the Grand Pas with a principal ballerina from the Reno Ballet.
“It is my intention to take this wonderful classic and tell the story with people and children as they are today and to have characters that are recognizable to youth,” Wayne said. “It must be entertaining, funny, spooky and magical.”
The community production includes performers from Wayne’s dance studio along with other local singers, dancers and actors.
Wayne said there are 47 children, 12 actors and 109 different costumes in the production.
“If I am successful, then Bishop will have an ongoing constantly changing ‘Nutcracker’ that they will be proud of,” Wayne said.
Wayne has poured more than $17,000 into the homegrown production, which he is making truly unique to Bishop by creating new choreography while including some of the most powerful moments from the original.
“For me it’s a challenge as a dancer, because once you have seen something, you hear the music and just imagine the dance,” Wayne said.
Part of the challenge has been adapting the dance moves to the size of the Bishop High School Auditorium stage.
“I’m excited, I’m not there yet, but the way it’s all unfolding, it’s wonderful,” Wayne said.
Wayne said the crew working on the production is also pouring their hearts and souls into the construction of the set, costumes and other details that will make the performance stand out.
“This is a big production ballet, when the lights come on, I want the kids to go, ‘Ooooooh,’” Wayne said. “I want to make the kids laugh, I want to scare them, and if I can provoke those kinds of emotions in one hour and 20 minutes, more power to me.”
Over the years Wayne has danced in hundreds of ballets, including “The Nutcracker,” and owned his own production company. He said he has done $3,000 productions and $10 million productions in his career.
Wayne has not danced professionally in 15 years, and said he misses the joy of moving, but wants to give something back to the community.
“The Nutcracker” premiered in 1875 and has been a holiday staple for many ever since.
With his community production, Wayne said he wants to breathe new, modern life into the story and introduce it to a whole new generation in the Owens Valley and maybe rekindle the magic for some older residents.
“If it works,” he said, “I hope to have Dennis Wayne’s annual production of ‘The Nutcracker’ in Bishop, bringing on new dancers and actors each year.”

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