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By Teri Vance
The Nevada Appeal
November 14, 2012

Between classes and rehearsals, Ryan Walker, 14, estimates he spends more than 20 hours a week dancing ballet. For the second year in a row he has been cast as the Nutcracker in Sierra Nevada Ballet’s production of “Peanutcracker: The Story in a Nutshell.” But his dedication to the art extends beyond the stage.

In pursuit of his Eagle Scout rank, Walker is re­build­ing the set for the performance. “They’ve been talking about it for a few years,” he said. “I figured this would be a good way to help benefit everybody.”

Walker is focusing on the Christmas tree, which serves as the backdrop for 45-minute narrated version of the classical ballet. As the story progresses, the tree grows.  However, the tree that the company uses now has become tattered and worn. “This one’s 15 or 20 years old,” Walker said. “It needs an upgrade.”

Working with friends, family and other scouts, Walker fashioned a 14-by-9-foot tree made of garland on a canvas. “It’s a lighter, more durable canvas,” he said. He’ll also be remaking the stand to allow it to work better with the capabilities of today’s theater.

The lights on the new tree will now be the more energy-efficient LED bulbs.

Sierra Nevada Ballet performs the condensed version of “The Nutcracker” to give children their first introduction to classical ballet.

Walker said the audience can expect a good show this year, along with an updated set. “The production will be good,” he said. “The people are really good this year.”

Walker will be earning his Eagle Scout rank through the Lone Scout program, a part of Boy Scouts of America, designed for young men who want to participate but cannot for whatever reason. Walker’s schedule does not permit time for a traditional [troop].

In addition to Boy Scouts, he is an apprentice for Sierra Nevada Ballet. Although home schooled, he also takes one class at Carson High School, three classes at Western Nevada College, and two classes at Impact Home School Co-op.

He hopes to earn his Eagle Scout rank by December and graduate from high school at 16. Then, Walker said, he plans to move to New York City to pursue a career as a ballet dancer.

©  2012 Swift Communications, Inc.

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