Soledad High School student Kali Jimenez becomes emotional after being announced as Clara in this year’s “Nutcracker Ballet.” (Serrano Photography)

KING CITY — Monterey County Dance Theatre (MCDT) along with Monterey County Dance Foundation have announced the young lady who will dance the lead role in the 2022 production of “The Nutcracker Ballet.”

Kali Jimenez of Soledad will play Clara in the upcoming show, scheduled for the second weekend in December at the Robert Stanton Theater in King City.

“What a pleasure it is to jointly announce with Monterey County Dance Foundation this deserving dancer to represent all our dancers,” said Jan Harkness, artistic director for MCDT. “Why all dancers? Our ‘Nutcracker’ is only danced one weekend — the second weekend in December yearly. We can only select one Clara. Kali will represent us all brilliantly.”

The announcement was made during the July 30 summer gala, which marked the conclusion of Monterey County Dance Theatre’s 2022 Summer Dance Intensive at the King City studio. Students enrolled in the classes increase their knowledge, technical abilities and artistry, while working on “obtaining personal goals, focus and reaching for dreams,” according to Harkness.

Monterey County Dance Theatre Artistic Director Jan Harkness (right) hugs Kali Jimenez of Soledad after she is announced to dance as Clara in this year’s “Nutcracker Ballet,” set for December. (Serrano Photography)

Jimenez began her dance journey at 3-1/2 years old in MCDT’s Soledad satellite studio, which at the time was offered just once weekly.

“When she wanted more dance classes, her parents found a way to travel to King City,” Harkness said.

Jimenez, who attends Soledad High School, is the daughter of Marlon and Cinthia Jimenez of Soledad. Her mother also danced with MCDT, making her a second-generation dancer at the studio. 

“Well-deserved Kali,” Harkness said. “We cannot wait to see you as Clara 2022.”

Dancers huddle around Kali Jimenez (center) after she is chosen to play Clara in the 2022 production of “The Nutcracker Ballet.” (Serrano Photography)

Two other cast members for this year’s “Nutcracker” were also introduced at the gala.

The role of Fritz, Clara’s brother and antagonist, will be played by Vivien Cullen, daughter of Rob and Allie Cullen of King City.

“Her dancing skill sets and acting are special,” Harkness said.

Olivia Garcia, who attends King City High School, will dance as The Dew Drop Fairy. She is the daughter of Henry and Kathy Garcia of King City and has been accepted at summer intensives, including the American Ballet Theatre. 

Harkness called her a “brilliant dancer taking on a difficult role for 2022.”

“I am so happy for them to represent my school and the Dance Foundation in ‘Nutcracker 2022,’” she added about this year’s performers.

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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