‘The Nutcracker’ comes to life for local dancerWORTHINGTON — Like many young dancers, 8-year-old McKenna Prunty dreams of someday being the graceful Sugarplum Fairy. But first things first: this Friday and Saturday, McKenna will make her debut as a little angel and a lamb in a regional production of the classic Christmas ballet “The Nutcracker” at the Sami Bedell Center for the Performing Arts in Spirit Lake, Iowa.
By: Jane Turpin Moore, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Like many young dancers, 8-year-old McKenna Prunty dreams of someday being the graceful Sugarplum Fairy.
But first things first: this Friday and Saturday, McKenna will make her debut as a little angel and a lamb in a regional production of the classic Christmas ballet “The Nutcracker” at the Sami Bedell Center for the Performing Arts in Spirit Lake, Iowa.
“Watching ‘The Nutcracker’ is one of our favorite family holiday traditions, and McKenna and her brother both collect nutcrackers, but this year, she gets to live it,” shared McKenna’s mother, Kay Williams Prunty.
The proprietress of Worthington’s The Dance Academy since 1996, Kay said her daughter grew up around dance and has taken lessons at her mother’s studio since she was just over 2.
Hence, it’s no surprise that McKenna is a poised and able dancer, but this is the first opportunity she has had to test her skill and mettle away from her mother’s tutelage.
Ballet Nebraska, a new dance company based in Omaha, Neb., connected with Dawn Fisher of Dawn’s Dance Connection in Spirit Lake to bring “The Nutcracker” to the Lakes area for the first time.
“I’m on the programming committee for the Sami Center,” explained Fisher, who coaches 250 dance students annually at her studio, “and had been trying to get a company to do ‘The Nutcracker’ here for about three years.
“Ballet Nebraska was willing to come, the schedules and finances worked out, and now we have this amazing opportunity for about 70 kids from the region to join with roughly 16 members of this professional dance company.”
Fisher put out a call to area studios, including Kay’s, for the summer auditions, and Kay in turn notified her 200-plus dance students.
But with relatively short notice, and with no regular classes under way during the summer months, it happened that McKenna was the only local dancer to head south for the “Nutcracker” audition, which Kay said in itself is valuable.
“Auditioning is a skill that takes practice,” confirmed Kay. “The more experience you have auditioning, the better you can do.”
The “Nutcracker” auditions were closed, which meant Kay had to leave McKenna at the door just like all the other parents, hoping for the best and killing time while her daughter went through the two-hour audition.
“The hardest part about the audition was they wanted us to keep our backs straight and to keep smiling,” recalled McKenna, who had gained previous auditioning experience with local Missoula Children’s Theatre shows.
Ultimately, McKenna was cast as the Littlest Angel, due to her petite size, and she will also appear as a baby lamb; in addition, she is an understudy for a baby mouse.
Every Sunday afternoon since September, McKenna has traveled to Spirit Lake for rehearsals, which have ranged from 30 minutes to two hours. This week, the Ballet Nebraska company members will be on site, with McKenna and the other 70 student dancers rehearsing with them Tuesday through Thursday nights in preparation for the three upcoming performances (two are open to the public, and one is Friday afternoon for Spirit Lake school students).
“They have a lot of hours ahead of them, but it’s exciting and it’s all going to be worth it,” assured Fisher.