ACB's Nutcracker: Not Just for Kids

by Karin Jensen - Alameda Sun

Greg Wong - Real Life Photography

December 14, 2007 - Whole families are getting involved both onstage and backstage this year, as in the past, making the ballet's production truly a community effort. "Many hands make light work, and a production of this quality could not be achieved without hundreds of hours of volunteer work," said Abra Rudisill, Alameda Civic Ballet's director and a long-time Alameda resident.

Realtor Denise Brady and her family are just one example. Brady helped found Alameda Civic Ballet with Rudisill in 2003 and continues on the board of directors where she is a principal costume designer, assists with fundraising, and choreographed the party scene dancing. Brady and her husband, Scott, perform as parents in the party scene, and their son, Colin, 12, performs as Fritz Stahlbaum, Clara's naughty brother who breaks the nutcracker doll.

"Colin had to take acting lessons for that," quipped Brady, who specializes in vintage real estate for Kane and Associates. Together, she and her family have performed together in the Nutcracker party scene for the past several years. "It is a real joy for me to perform onstage with my husband and son. It is a treasured part of our holiday memories together."

Pilates instructor Christine Naish Naccarelli grew up dancing alongside her mother, Carol Naish, in Ballet Hawaii productions of the Nutcracker and other ballets, and continued her career with the Alabama Ballet and small companies in Los Angeles. Naccarelli serves on the ACB's board as secretary and leads classes at the Harbor Bay Club. This year, she performs the role of Clara's mother, Frau Stahlbaum, and is an Arabian Coffee soloist.

Her daughter Erynn, 11, dances as a party scene girl and as a Russian dancer. Her son Niccolo, 7, serves as a toy soldier in the battle scene. "The holiday season doesn't feel complete without Nutcracker," Naccarelli said.

These are just a few examples of the dozens of families that devoting themselves to the production. Approximately 100 performers appear on stage. Nearly every performer has one or more family members helping out.

Greg Wong - Real Life Photography

"A passion for performing and the skills it involves represents an important part of the performing arts education that we strive to teach at the Academy," Rudisill said. "We hope that it will serve our students well throughout their lives. Our students are the most precious seeds that we can plant to ensure a garden of arts for the future and to develop the audiences of tomorrow."

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Christine Naish with Gail Foster in the Nutcracker

Christine Naish Nacarelli and Gail Foster in ACB's the Nutcracker