A group of young dancers swirled, twirled and raced around the room Saturday at Chitwood Studio of Dance in Roseburg to the music for the Christmas Party segment of The Nutcracker Ballet.

It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work, said ballerina Stormi Fye, an eighth grader at Coffenberry Middle School in Myrtle Creek.

“It’s quite a lot of running around, a lot of high energy steps,” Stormi said. “Circle Dance is one of the highest energy parts we have to do in this.”

Stormi and dozens of other ballet students, who range in age from elementary to high school, are preparing to dance in the Eugene Ballet Company’s performance of the classic Christmas performance. The Nutcracker Ballet will be performed at 3 p.m. Nov. 24 at Umpqua Community College’s Jacoby Auditorium in Winchester.

Stormi is playing the role of a party guest in this year’s ballet. Next year, she hopes to be a flower.

Roseburg High School Senior Isabelle Hervey will don the blue dress for one of the coveted flower roles at this year’s dance.

“My first Nutcracker was when I was in first grade, and that was when I started dancing. It’s always a lot of fun to do. It’s become one of the things that gets me excited for the holidays,” she said.

Violet Billings carried a hanger as she led a pack of girls dancing across the room Saturday. At the performance, the hanger will be replaced by a trumpet and the girls will be playing the roles of a group of unruly boys who crash the party dance.

Last year, Billings, who is a sixth grade student at Umpqua Valley Christian School, played a different boy — one riding a hobby horse at the party. In other years past, she’s also been an angel and a mouse.

“I really like the acting part of it,” said Violet, who also played the role of Templeton in the Umpqua Actors Community Theatre production of Charlotte’s Web last year.

On the sidelines, Megan Chaendera watched her daughter Emma Chaendera, a fifth grader at Eastwood, practice for her fourth appearance in the ballet.

Megan Chaendera loves that her daughter gets to dance with students from other ballet schools, and that she’ll perform with professional dancers. She said the professionals are very kind to the students.

Following auditions in the first week of October, the ballet students practice every weekend until the performance.

“The rehearsals ruin my weekends, but I don’t even care. You can’t put a price tag on it,” Megan Chaendera said.

Instructor Susan Chitwood said the Nutcracker is so popular that ballet companies around the world make most of their money for the year performing it.

“It’s nice for the local kids to do the minor parts and have the chance to dance with professional dancers,” she said.

“Go wind her up somebody,” she interjected as a dancer playing a wind-up doll curled downward as if she’d run out of energy.

The music, Chitwood said, is awfully good.

“There are other children’s ballets you don’t exactly go out of the theater singing. This one you do,” she said.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door, cash or check only. Tickets can be purchased at the Chitwood Studio of Dance, 3782 Hooker Road, Roseburg at 1:30-8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1:30-6 p.m. on the weekend.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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