Some young dancers are getting ready to take the stage at Victoria’s Royal Theatre for a holiday favourite — the Nutcracker.
“I thought it would be fun to do the Nutcracker because I haven’t done the Nutcracker in a long time,” says nine-year-old Pavlo Fabrikov, who’s performed in the Nutcracker once before.
“I really love dancing,” adds nine-year-old Nora Neely. “I really love acting, too, so I thought it would be really fun to do it with my friends this year.”
“It’s so special, I think, because of the scale of the production but also the community and the cultural connections that are made possible because of Shumka being involved, because of the partnership with the Veselka Ukrainian Dance Association,” explains Dance Victoria executive director Gillian Jones.
The Shumka Nutcracker was last performed here in 2019, and Dance Victoria’s been eager to bring them back.
“Pre-COVID, we had the production from Edmonton here in Victoria, and it was an audience favourite,” Gillian says. “We had people coming out who maybe hadn’t even seen the Nutcracker before. For a lot of kids. It was their first time coming to see a live performance at the theatre.”
It’s an exciting experience for the children taking part.
“I like being in front of an audience and like the dance moves are special, which I also like,” Pavlo says.
“I have this small duet with my friend, and she’s like my best friend, so I’m really excited about that,” Nora adds.
Seeing the performance on stage will also be accessible to hundreds of people who can’t afford to buy tickets.
Dance Victoria provides free tickets to local children and families through the Nutcracker Kids’ Program.
“Each year, we raise money so that we’re able to provide free tickets to community members who have financial barriers so that they can come out and see the show,” Gillians says. “And this year in particular, we’re partnering with local non-profits that are helping Ukrainians who are new to Victoria and starting their lives afresh because of the war.”
The Ukrainian Shumka Dancers’ Nutcracker is Dec. 1-3.