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A Plum role

Brittany Duggan dancing every ballerina’s dream part

What: The Nutcracker

Where: MY (Millennium) Place

When: Sunday, Dec. 12 & Monday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $9.99-$30

The surreal music box theme, the sparkling, frothy tutu costume, the lighter than air solo choreography – has there ever been a sweeter ballet role than the Nutcracker’s Sugar Plum Fairy?

A beautiful vision dancing for a dreaming cherub in the mystical Land of Sweets, the Sugar Plum Fairy is always the highlight of the universally beloved Christmas ballet.

In the Whistler Dance Academy’s upcoming presentation of the Nutcracker at MY Place next weekend the iconic prima ballerina role has been assigned to lovely local dancer Brittany Duggan. For the graceful 17-year-old Whistler Secondary student, it’s a dream come true.

"She’s the fairy, the queen of the best scene. I’m really honoured that I get to go on and do that part," Duggan enthused. "I like it so much and it’s my favourite thing to watch when I go to the Nutcracker myself, so I’m really thrilled."

Growing up in the Okanagan, Brittany was one of four Duggan sisters, all of whom were either taking or were destined for dance lessons. Going to see the Nutcracker in Kelowna was a yearly tradition. Even at a young age she remembers the Sugar Plum Fairy’s ability to captivate the audience.

"Being a kid, your jaw just drops," she recalled. "You’re kind of talking and laughing and singing at the other parts but when she comes on she just has this delicateness about her. Everyone is just quiet."

The role still casts the same spell. Duggan says during rehearsals for the upcoming production even restless four year olds fall silent when she runs through the Sugar Plum solo.

"I don’t know what it is about it," she said, "but it’s definitely a magical dance."

Duggan, who trains at Howe Sound Dance Academy and teaches dance in Pemberton, attributes the timeless appeal of the Nutcracker as a whole to the theatrical elements of the story, combined with the spirit of the holidays. Although ironically, she points out, it’s the proximity to the holidays and the overwhelming number of events and commitments the season brings that often prevents smaller dance schools from staging the production.

The benefit of staging the ballet locally is that local dance kids get the chance to participate instead of sitting in the audience wishing they could be on stage too.

"It’s just one of those things," Duggan added, "to do the Nutcracker is part of the dance experience for any kid."

Duggan may get a chance to dance Sugar Plum again someday. The graduating student has her eye on attending a post-secondary dance academy and will audition for the National Ballet School at the end of May.

Christmas Classic staging two shows

The Whistler Dance Academy’s presentation of the Nutcracker is choreographed and directed by instructor Carey Hemsley, who also dances the part of the Snow Queen, and will feature the classic orchestral score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. More than 80 young dancers are involved – many of whom will be making their performance debut on pointe.

The academy will be accepting donations for the Whistler Food Bank at the performances and will also donate partial ticket proceeds to the charity. Tickets are selling at the MY Place box office for $9.99 with a small number of $30 VIP seats available.

There will be two shows, Sunday, Dec. 12 and Monday Dec. 13, both beginning at 7 p.m. For more information on the show call 604-935-8410.