Nutcracker On Ice

START THE SEA­SON OFF WITH

The Day - Sound & Country - - - By KA­T­RINA T. GATH­ERS

An­nual per­for­mance in Nor­wich in­cludes lo­cal skaters

NNor­wich’s hol­i­day sea­son would be in­com­plete without a lo­cal club’s an­nual ice skat­ing ex­trav­a­ganza. “Nutcracker on Ice” is be­ing per­formed at the Nor­wich Mu­nic­i­pal Ice Rink. The two-hour per­for­mance, in­clud­ing in­ter­mis­sion, typ­i­cally draws hun­dreds of spec­ta­tors to the show, which is held on back-to-back days.

“We have a lot of skaters from sur­round­ing ar­eas and this is ba­si­cally the kick-off for Nor­wich’s win­ter fes­ti­val,” ex­plains Maria Smelser, a Nor­wich Fig­ure Skat­ing Club coach and one of the or­ga­niz­ers for the ice event.

“It’s sort of the beginning of the whole hol­i­day sea­son, so I think that’s why peo­ple want to come.”

More than 50 mem­bers of the skat­ing club, ages three to adult, will take to the ice to put on their ren­di­tion of a clas­si­cal hol­i­day story. Thirty-three club mem­bers have se­cured roles as soloists, while mem­bers of the Learn to Skate pro­gram will serve as flow­ers and dew­drops. Sev­eral guest skaters will also be in­cluded in the pro­gram.

The skat­ing club be­gins work­ing on the an­nual per­for­mance in July, says the coach. Soloists au­di­tion at the end of Au­gust and prac­tice for both the group and solo rou­tines be­gin in midSeptem­ber.

“We do vary (the per­for­mance) de­pend­ing on the skaters we have in the show each year, but we try to stay as close to the tra­di­tional Nutcracker bal­let as pos­si­ble,” says Smelser.

Skaters will use props and beau­ti­ful cos­tumes to bring to life the story of Clara’s Christ­mas Eve party and her visit to the land of sweets. Now in its 12th year, Smelser says that or­ga­niz­ers try to give a new role to each skater ev­ery year, how­ever, most of the cast is se­lected based on how each skater in­ter­prets the mu­sic dur­ing their au­di­tion.

“We watch them skate and con­sider the mu­sic from var­i­ous parts and how they can make the role their own,” says the for­mer com­pet­i­tive skater. “You need to be at a cer­tain level, the freestyle level, to be a soloist. Clara is usu­ally one of the higher-level skaters, her and the Su­gar Plum Fairy.”

Along with rel­a­tives of the cast and crew, Smelser says the au­di­ence in­cludes peo­ple from as far away as Rhode Is­land and as nearby as Water­ford.

“Some peo­ple just love to see it ev­ery year,” she says.

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