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By María Villaseñor
The Salt Lake Tribune


At 10, Tade Biesinger is practically a pro when it comes to “The Nutcracker.” For the past two years, the Bountiful boy has played Fritz — the naughty brother who steals and breaks the titular toy — in Ballet West’s holiday production.

“It’s kind of fun getting in trouble a lot,” he says of his character. He performed in the first cast used for “The Nutcracker” this season, and he is an understudy for the second cast’s “Fritz.”

Each December, more than 250 children dance, tumble and run across the Capitol Theatre stage to help perform the expansive production. It’s a Ballet West tradition to hold an open audition in the fall, during which more than 500 area children try to win a spot in the Christmas classic.

Tade and two younger brothers have all pursued roles. “I wasn’t nervous for Tade so much,” said Clint Biesinger said of his sons’ auditions. “But I was thrilled when the other two boys [made it]; they don’t have near the experience.”

Tade — an avid dancer who takes classes in tap, hip hop, ballet, jazz and more — was the first to perform in “The Nutcracker” and has been in the show during the past three years. Last year, 8-year-old Briggs had a part. And this year, Brooks, 7, has the role of a playful party-goer who gets his bottom smacked.  “When they come home from practices, they’re pretty excited,” their father said.

This year’s production seems to have one of the largest numbers of relatives — from cousins to brothers and sisters — performing together.  Cati Snarr, Ballet West’s child ballet mistress, runs the rehearsals and sees that for many, having their young children perform is a family tradition. Some “are moms that danced with me,” said Snarr, who performed in “The Nutcracker” when she was 10. “So it’s really come full circle.”

It can be a challenge for children to undergo weeks of practice, but they are eager to be part of the ballet, she said. “They are smart and they rise to the occasion really fast.”

Tade makes sure to help his younger brother Brooks with his moves. “We practice at home with him,” Tade said. His middle brother Briggs opted against trying out for “The Nutcracker” this year because it overlapped with the schedule for new activity.

“He really wanted to play football and this is the first year he could play,” his father said.

The boys’ parents like their children learning more about music, culture, dance and teamwork. It also gives them the opportunity to be surrounded by excellence, their father added. “I don’t care if it’s football or soccer or choir, whatever the discipline is — or dance — it’s neat for our community to give kids chances to be part of something excellent.”


Copyright 2009 The Salt Lake Tribune

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