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By Michelle Shippers
The Fairport-East Rochester Post
November 21, 2013

Cameron Thomas in costume as the Nutcracker Prince 2013[Rochester, New York, USA] – Visions of sugarplums will dance in their heads and live onstage at Eastman Theatre for ‘The Nutcracker,’ opening Friday, November 29’

For 15 seasons, Rochester City Ballet and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra have joined forces annually to recreate the magic of the classic holiday ballet, producing Rochester’s only full-length, live-music version of ‘The Nutcracker.’ In addition to displaying the talents of the company members from the renowned Rochester City Ballet, the annual ballet welcomes over 200 community members, many of them children under 18, for various roles that require different levels of dance or performance experience.

“Everyone knows the music from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker;’ it represents Christmas,” said 16 year-old Cameron Thomas of Pittsford, who is playing the role of the Nutcracker Prince for the second time. “Everyone knows the story, but people come back to see different takes on the same classic story, such as different people in the roles.”

A simple tale of the magic of Christmas, ‘The Nutcracker,’ follows the story of a young girl of the Victorian era who receives a beautiful Nutcracker from her godfather on Christmas Eve. That night, the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince, who whisks her away through a snowy forest to ‘The Land of Sweets’ where cake, candy and other delights seek to entertain them. By morning, Clara is back home and everything is as it was once more.

“As much as I love the classical dance numbers in ‘The Land of Sweets’, the party scene where Clara receives the Nutcracker is just so much fun to watch,” said Thomas. “It looks and feels like a real party!’

Thomas is a junior at Pittsford Sutherland High School and a student in the professional training program at The Draper Center For Dance Education. Thomas started dancing at Draper six years ago because he wanted to become a part of ‘The Nutcracker.’ At the age of 10, Thomas danced his first role onstage as a lead page. Since then, he has appeared as a ginger baby, soldier in the battle scene, Fritz, and now the Nutcracker Prince.

“Like most guys, I was a late bloomer for dance,” said Thomas, who was a self-described “sporto hockey player,” in his younger years. Before dance, Thomas was taking gymnastics to improve his strength in other sports. Though his mother forced him to try dance, Thomas quickly fell in love with the technique, strength and power required by male dancers. Today, he is dancing 25 hours or more a week and dreams of a career in this field. “It takes so much diligence and passion,” said Thomas. “When you watch male dancers perform classical repertoire, they radiate this kind of power that you don’t see in gymnastics flips.”

Though Thomas is performing the title role of the ballet, the true principal (lead) roles of ‘The Nutcracker,’ are the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, performed by Rochester City Ballet Company Member Jessica Tretter and guest Artist Barry Kerollis for three performances, followed by guest artists Janessa Touchet and Cervilio Amador for the remaining three performances.

“There is always something new to see every year,” said Thomas. “The sets and costumes are always changing and improving, and it’s amazing to see the RPO bring this music to life. Any chance you can get to hear this music, live, presented with classical dance, is something you can’t miss out on.”

If you go: WHAT: The Nutcracker, with the Rochester City Ballet, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bach’s Children Chorus WHERE: Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 60 Gibbs St, Rochester WHEN: Six shows, Fri.-Sun November 29- December 1, 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. each day TICKETS: $10 – $89, please call the RPO Box Office at 585-454-2100 or visit their website at: Recommended for ages pre-K and up

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