SOUTH COUNTY — Now in its fifth year of touring Monterey County, Dance Kids of Monterey County has announced that it will once again present performances of “Cascanueces: A Folklorico Nutcracker” in South County schools in November.
The annual holiday tradition in story and dance celebrates the rich culture of Mexico and countries south of the border. The idea of melding European music and music from Spanish-speaking countries to create a “Cascanueces” has brought together mariachi musicians, folkloric choreographers and local ballet dancers.
This year 10 students each from elementary schools in King City, Greenfield, San Ardo and San Lucas will study a dance with two folkloric dancers and one musician for six weeks prior to the school performance. These students will then perform with the professional troupe in the assembly at their respective schools.
Ten mariachi musicians will perform Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece rewritten by Salinas-born Jalisco harpist, William Faulkner. The program includes the four divertissements from the second act and the much-loved “Sugar Plum Fairy” solo, performed by a Dance Kids’ ballerina in a traditional tutu.
Folkloric dancers perform four traditional, and very different, dance styles from four Mexican states. Together the program bridges cultures and fosters growth and understanding of diversity through the art of dance.
The November 2018 tour date of “Cascanueces” is reserved by South County schools early each school year in the anticipation of a colorful and educational assembly. The tour begins in San Ardo with performances in San Lucas, King City, Greenfield and Salinas.
At least two of the schools invite other schools to their assemblies, allowing Dance Kids to impact more than seven schools in one tour date. In November 2017, there were more than 1,500 audience members in elementary through high school in attendance. The day culminated in a performance at Hartnell College in Salinas to a standing-room-only, 250-seat music hall setting.
Dance Kids of Monterey County, founded in 1993, is a non-profit group with the objective of bringing the art of the dance and theater experience to all youngsters in Monterey County. In 25 years, the organization has produced more than 50 productions, including month-long summer theater intensives, traditional and full-length story ballets.
Dance Kids now supports an ongoing after-school learning program in a Monterey Peninsula Unified School District location, in addition to its popular annual performances of “Nutcracker” at Carmel’s Sunset Cultural Center and “Cascanueces.”
The two directors/choreographers for “Nutcracker,” husband-and-wife team Maria Luisa Colmenarez and Rudy Garcia, were consultants on Disney-Pixar’s animated film “Coco.”