Nutcracker Leaps Its Way Into The Spotlight


Dress Rehearsal day in the main auditorium. Pictured are (bottom left to right) Rylie Heiser, Anna Penkiunas, Paige Schoeffel. (Standing left to right) Halley Roy, Grace Bauman, Eva Hunter, Fiona Walsh. Photo credit to Charlotte Krell.

West Potomac will host the 10th annual Alexandria Community Nutcracker starting November 28th and ends December 1st. Vigorous practices for five months have led up to this weekend of five shows. The Nutcracker is a play of a series of dances, telling a story of a Christmas toy; a nutcracker that comes to life. 232 girls and boys of all ages in the West Po community participate, making the shows as sophomore Kaylee Kosar calls it,” a great way to get into the holiday season.”

Senior Lindsay Johnson, who will play the lead role of Clara this year, has been to the Nutcracker all ten years, and has performed in it since freshman year, seeing all the changes made in the process. She credits the instructors, Gennifer Difilippo, Adrienne Taylor, and Courtney Betzel for the program’s success. “Over the years, Ms. Gennifer, Ms. Adrienne, and Ms. Betzel have done an amazing job at re-imagining the show every year so it’s a different experience every time,” said Johnson.

Another ten year member is sophomore Kylie Rapp. “I got involved the very first year because my dance teacher was the director so she encouraged all of her students to audition,” she explains.

And don’t think you have to be a dancer to be a part of the Nutcracker. A relatively new member to the production this year is sophomore Jesus Munayco. This is his second year in Nutcracker and he plays a father in the party scene. Munayco explains, “The experience of being on stage and being able to see how many people come and watch the show is unbelievable. I have a small role, but it still feels uplifting knowing that a lot of people come every year and see it.”

Senior Nicole Martineau began helping out running the show and doing costume sales four years ago, but participating this year for the first time in Russian jazz and Russian Hip Hop. Martineau explained, “I’ve really loved watching the changes in different dance’s styles and the different costumes. I also love seeing who is picked to play the different leads.”

All of the dancers agreed upon one thing: It sets you up for the holiday spirit. Junior Charlotte Krell, a five year member of the production says, “I love doing Nutcracker because it puts me in the Christmas spirit all year long.” Kosar agreed saying, “My favorite part of Nutcracker is getting into the holiday spirit. We have so many festive costumes and songs. It [the Nutcracker] always makes me super excited for winter break and the holidays.”

Besides the final product of the show that most people see, finding time out of practices and dress rehearsals for schoolwork is a different battle for the ones performing. Kosar emphasized, “It is definitely a big commitment during November and December months, when the shows are occurring. The week of the show, the high schoolers eat together right after school, and then get ready for the show. We all usually get home around 9 so it’s hard to get all of our work done, but definitely all worth it.” Rapp adds, “The schedule is difficult, but the directors do a great job of acknowledging that our first priority is school and that we do other activities.

For seniors Johnson and Martineau, this is their last Nutcracker to take part in. Johnson said, “I am going to miss Nutcracker so much next year. It is one of my favorite weeks in the year and I will miss spending time with all my friends. I am at my happiest when I’m performing and the magic of Nutcracker season just makes me even more happy.” Martineau replied, “I’m really going to miss the backstage moments and hanging out with all of the other dancers at practice and before shows.”

With all of the struggles of time management and hours of practice are put on this dancers, they all agree that it is all worth it for this weekend.