Another crack at an old favourite

The holiday season is quickly sneaking up, which means the sights and sounds of Christmas are all around us. Gaudy Christmas lights dangle off homes, businesses and trees, stores have dusted off that Boney M Christmas CD and grocery stores have stocked up on eggnog.

The holiday season is quickly sneaking up, which means the sights and sounds of Christmas are all around us.

Gaudy Christmas lights dangle off homes, businesses and trees, stores have dusted off that Boney M Christmas CD and grocery stores have stocked up on eggnog.

A somewhat classier holiday tradition will be taking place at the Yukon Arts Centre this weekend.

The Northern Lights School of Dance is staging its rendition of Tchaikovsky’s fairy tale ballet, The Nutcracker.

The show has been performed every Christmas since 2002.

But audiences can expect to see a lot of new additions to this particular run, said Deborah Lemaire, Northern Lights School of Dance principal and artistic director of the show.

“Every year, we try to tweak it here and there just to make it a little bit different for the dancers that have been doing it for a while and also for the audiences.”

The sets will also be more elaborate this year.

The production is in year two of a three-year plan to beef up its set design.

This year there is an elegant looking fireplace to fill in the parlor of the first act and a whole new Candy Land set for the second, said Lemaire.

“Before we had elegant costumes and the passion of the dancers, but our sets really lacked that sort of grandeur and passion that everything else had.”

This is also the first time in a long while that the production has been able to perform the Grand pas de deux – the famous dance between the Nutcracker Prince and the Sugarplum Fairy.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve done the Grand pas de deux,” said Lemaire.

“I finally had both male and female dancers that were at the calibre that I needed to perform this dance.”

Lemaire has been waiting for Calvin Laveck, her star male pupil, to reach that calibre.

Laveck has been dancing at the Northern Lights School of Dance since Grade 6.

“My mom got me into it,” he said.

“I decided to give it a try and started out with hip hop.”

A subsequent role in a local performance of Peter Pan got him hooked.

Now in Grade 12, this is Laveck’s last year dancing in the Yukon and taking part in the Nutcracker.

He has applied to a number of schools across Canada, but hopes to get into Sheridan College and its music theatre program.

Regardless of where he winds up going to school, he wants to continue acting, singing and dancing.

Laveck hopes to make a career out of his passion for musical theatre.

“Oh yeah, Broadway, that’s the dream,” he said.

“Working on Broadway, playing a big role like Tony from Westside Story would be fantastic.”

This is Laveck’s fifth performance in the annual production of The Nutcracker.

The 17-year-old has played everything from small roles right up to the Nutcracker/Prince.

In addition to his debut in the Grand pas de deux, Laveck plays the lead role of the prince again this year.

For a long time, Laveck was the only boy in the dance school.

He’s since been joined by Jake Ruddy and Thomas Mostyn.

“Calvin has been a terrific role model for other boys coming into the school,” said Lemaire.

“He tells the other boys, ‘Don’t just do your hip hop, come and do a ballet class and a modern class.’”

Laveck recommends dance to any young men who think they might be interested, but he’s given up trying to convince his friends to join the dance school.

“I tried when I was younger, but wasn’t very successful,” he said.

“It’s hard sometimes being the only guy in class, but it definitely isn’t a bad thing being surrounded by a group of girls.”

Laveck is pleased with the education he’s gotten while studying dance, singing and theatre in the Yukon.

While in Stratford, Ontario, during a two-week summer course, Laveck was surprised by how much he knew.

“I thought it would filled with professional kids from Toronto that would put me to shame,” he said.

“We’re so lucky up here to have the schools and facilities that we do.”

But next fall, Laveck will be moving on to bigger and better things.

“We’re going to miss him,” said Lemaire.

“He’s a talented young man and he’s been an integral part of the school.

“He’ll be terrific in anything he does.”

The Nutcracker will be presented today and tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Yukon Arts Centre.

There will also be a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday.

Admission is $18 for adults and $12 for seniors and children under 10.

Tickets are available in advance from the arts centre box office and Arts Underground.

Contact Chris Oke at

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