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Holiday Tradition: Arena's Performing Arts Takes on 'Nutcracker'

More than 50 local dancers will perform the Christmas classic at Robert Morris University.

It's time for a costume change at Arena's Performing Arts Centre.  

Dancers dash from a rehearsal room into an outside hallway, swiftly making the switch into their roles as mice or toy soldiers, parents standing by to tend to the flurry. 

More than 50 young dancers from the Moon area will take to the stage at Robert Morris University on Saturday, bringing to life the Christmas classic The Nutcracker. 

The ballet has become something of a tradition for the Brodhead Road dance studio, which has performed the show for the past five years, said studio director Adrienne Arena-Jacobs. 

"We tweak it every year," she said. "We look at the strengths of our dancers and the number of kids we have, and we adjust." 

On Saturday, dancers twirled and glided across the rehearsal room's red floor, readying themselves for Saturday's performance. Arena-Jacob's said tickets for the show, which takes place in the university's Massey Theater, are going fast. 

In the past, the studio has performed the ballet at Ambridge High School's auditorium. 

"(The Massey Theater) is smaller, a little more intimate, which I like," Adrienne-Jacobs said. 

Brianna Farringer will play the lead of Clara in the show. Joe LaGrosse will play Drosselmeyer; Allison Ulven will be the Snow Queen and Sarah Michaelbrink will dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Adrienne-Jacobs said dance students as young as 5 will participate in the show. 

"Now that we've been doing it for a few years, we've had younger dancers sort of come up to play the lead roles," she said. "And the older dancers will help the younger ones, so it's great."

The Nutcracker will take to the stage at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Massey Theater on Robert Morris University's campus. Visit the studio's website for ticket information and more on attending.  

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