Millersburg kids get a glimpse of HCA’s ‘The Nutcracker’

Millersburg kids get a glimpse of HCA’s ‘The Nutcracker’

Image Credit: Dave Mast

Clara, the Nutcracker, the Mouse King and many other ballet performers paid a visit to Millersburg Elementary on Monday, Nov. 21 to not only perform for the student body, but also to introduce them to an art form they may have never before experienced.

The Holmes Center for the Arts provided the cast of performers for the assembly that took place on the school’s stage, and the performance provided good practice for the upcoming performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Holmes Center for the Arts in Berlin Dec. 2-4.

Sophia Beachy, HCA executive director assistant and dance instructor, served as the emcee for the event. Before showcasing the talent of the performers by offering several of the key scenes from “The Nutcracker,” Beachy got the student body involved with some of the different ballet moves they would witness.

She had her dancers present several different jumps and then invited several students to come up and try to recreate them on stage. She then invited several teachers to give it their best shot, encouraging the students to cheer for the teachers they wanted to see take center stage.

She also had the entire student body stand up and participate in a mirror routine she led, the students following her every move as they silently articulated what it would look like to get out of bed and eat breakfast.

It was then time for her cast to take center stage, and Clara, the Nutcracker and other key figures in the presentation went through their various dances. The students were enrapt as the cast flitted, twirled and leaped their way through their respective routines.

While it was good practice for the cast, Beachy said these types of presentations go well beyond the simple act of presenting entertainment.

“The performing arts continue to be something that don’t get talked about a lot in this area, but we’re getting there,” Beachy said. “A lot of kids grow up playing sports or farming and getting involved with different things, but the arts aren’t something that is big in this area, and it’s so important in our community. I think performances like this where we get out into the schools and open the kids’ eyes at a young age and seeing that the arts are beautiful and fun is important.”

As for the cast, they understand what they are doing strives to rise above simply entertaining and performing. Beachy said they understand these types of introductory presentations can inspire children to think more about becoming involved in the performing arts.

Beachy said the entire cast enjoys the idea of serving as ambassadors in the community for the performing arts, and they love the interaction with the kids.

She said the hope is seeing this performance will spur some of the youth to go home and talk about it with their parents and get them excited about possibly joining the cast and becoming involved with the HCA in some capacity.

“We love it when the kids show up at the actual performance at the show and come up to them afterward and say, ‘You came to my school.’ There’s something thrilling to us in hearing their excitement,” Beachy said. “As a dancer, that is as fulfilling as being on stage.”

Jenna Gerber, who performed as Clara, the lead in “The Nutcracker,” said they like the idea of doing assemblies like this because the children are active and enthusiastic and it has a different feel and pace than the actual performances.

“It’s fun to watch them become so involved in what we are presenting,” Gerber said. “Many of these kids have no idea what ballet is about. It’s neat to see that awe on their faces.”

Gerber said the troop has been preparing for the early December shows with practices beginning in early August. As part of one of the premier presentations the HCA presents each year, they know a strong showing can help spread the word about the success the HCA has become, and it helps get the public excited about the HCA’s ability to offer something unique to the community.

The HCA will present “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 2 at 7 p.m., Dec. 3 with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. and an evening show at 7 p.m., and Dec. 4 with a 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are available online by visiting the HCA’s website at