‘Nutcracker’ by kids coming to Rio Hondo

From staff reports

WHITTIER – When the Rio Hondo College Dance Collective began planning its annual performance, leaders decided to engage local students at every level of learning – from preschool through high school.

So dancers and choreographers reached out to Pioneer High School, Hadley School, Dean Shively Middle School and Rio Hondo College’s Child Development Center to gather performers for the holiday classic, “The Nutcracker.”

In all, the show’s cast includes 40 students from the local schools, 12 advanced dancers from the Collective and 10 performers recruited from Rio Hondo College’s ballet and modern dance programs.

The Dance Collective is an ensemble of advanced students in the Rio Hondo Dance Program who are pursuing careers as dancers, choreographers or in another aspect of the field. The group performs on campus, at area dance festivals and community concerts.

“This is a great opportunity not only for our dancers to hone their skills during a live performance, but also to showcase opportunities in dance for our local community,” said Assistant Professor Alyson Cartagena, Rio Hondo College’s Director of Dance.

As part of that effort, the Collective revamped the traditional favorite, streamlining the lengthy program to about one hour to create a more enjoyable experience for parents with small children.

“This will be a wonderful family-friendly event, one that is sure to capture the spirit of the holiday and the spirit of our incredible dance program,” Rio Hondo College Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss said.

This is the Collective’s fifth holiday program, to be performed at 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13 at the Wray Theater, 3600 Workman Mill Road, Whittier.

“Our annual holiday program manages to combine a multitude of benefits – it highlights student performers, engages our community, celebrates the season and raises funds for student activities,” Board of Trustees President Madeline Shapiro said.

The event’s ticket sales – $10 in advance, $15 at the door, free for children under 5 – will help fund the Collective’s participation in the 2016 American College Dance Association, a national program of workshops and performances for U.S. colleges and universities.

The event will include holiday food and gifts for purchase as well as a visit from Santa Claus.

Call 562-463-3145 for more information.

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