Well before Zoë Dienes decided to attend St. Paul’s School, she would go each December with her family to the free performance of The Nutcracker Act II and watch the dancers glide across the stage.
“I would dream I was up there,” Dienes said.
But she no longer has to fantasize about being in the school’s ballet company – she’s already living that dream. And now Dienes, a Concord native, is the one who could be an inspiration to young local dancers.
“There was this little girl last year – all dressed up in the crowd – and I just saw myself sitting there,” she said.
Dienes is playing the role of Snow Queen in this year’s show, which will be performed this weekend in Memorial Hall – free of charge.
As the Snow Queen, Dienes, who is a sophomore (or fourth form student), opens the show as the featured dancer with a choreography that is 6:28 in length.
“Ms. Howard looks at it over four years and what roles you can do to push you the most,” Dienes said.
Dienes will also play the role of a flower in the “Waltz of the Flowers” and is in the finale. Last year, she was a snow princess.
“It’s not about what role you have; it’s about what you put into your role,” Dienes said.
But playing the Snow Queen means wearing a classic tutu, which is quite the accomplishment from what we’ve heard.
“Zoë is a very charismatic performer and Snow is the first thing that we do on stage, so she’s the first featured soloist,” Howard said.
For those unfamiliar with this particular story, The Nutcracker Act II is a little under an hour long and has four major dances: “Snow,” “Arabian,” “Waltz of the Flowers” and “Marzipan.”
Every dance has a featured solo, duo or trio that are backed up by a group of extremely talented dancers, some of whom play those other featured roles during the performance, like Lilly Hines as Dewdrop, Phoebe Lummis as Sugar Plum Fairy and Lucas Gomez-Doyle as the Cavalier.
In all, there are 17 dancers in the St. Paul’s Ballet Company that will take part in this yearly show.
“They make a commitment to be in the ballet company for the whole year,” Howard said.
Performing the abridged version of the holiday classic for free is a longstanding tradition that dates back to when Howard was a student at the school – and she graduated in 1992.
There will be three performances beginning on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Saturday’s performance is in the same 7:30 time slot, while Sunday’s third and final production will held be at 2 p.m.
It is free and open to all ages. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The house will open 30 minutes before curtain, so get there early enough and you’ll have your pick of some great seats.
If you’d like to show your appreciation for the free performance of The Nutcracker Act II, here’s one way: The ballet company is inviting anyone to bring an unwrapped toy, not exceeding $25 in value, with them to the show. It is not required, but the toys will be donated to local children in need of a present this Christmas.
In addition to the St. Paul’s Ballet Company, there will be 11 local angels on stage, featuring St. Paul’s faculty members’ children, and students from Shaker Road School, Christa McAuliffe School and St. John Regional School.
For more, visit sps.edu/ page/arts/dance.