'The Nutcracker' returns to the Steamboat stage

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— The Elevation Dance Studio's second production of "The Nutcracker" opens with its first of three shows at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Steamboat Springs High School theater.

Renee Fleischer, owner of Elevation Dance Studio, described "The Nutcracker" as a little girl's daydream where at times it is hard to determine what is reality and what is fantasy. Fleischer said the performance is entirely family friendly.

"We want to stress that even if you came to see the show last year, you should come again, because we have added some new things," Fleischer said. "You will see something different."

The show — traditionally ballet — has a lively mix of hip-hop, contemporary and jazz styles. All the dances are unique to the Steamboat production of this age-old Christmas classic.

"We have five or six choreographers here that have worked really hard to put together all of the amazing dances," Fleischer said.

Rehearsals for the production began in early September. There are about 90 dancers involved in the show, and the ensemble ranges in age from 4 to adult. No matter the age, however, every dancer kept his or her focus during rehearsals under the rigorous instruction provided by the professional staff at the studio.

Olivia Satkiewicz, 12, plays the lead role of Clara.

"This show gives me such good stage experience," Olivia said. "It's something that I really enjoy."

Olivia reprises the role of Clara for her second time during this year's performance. And she said her experience has definitely helped.

"I can forget about the choreography now and just focus on the acting part of it," Olivia said.

Elevation Dance Studio has been in Steamboat Springs for four years and now has about 250 dancers involved in its programs.

"Like many businesses, it took us about a year to be successful," Fleischer said. "We saw our numbers double by the second year."

She says the mix of dance styles in "The Nutcracker" feature the type of variety that the studio and its instructors are trying to develop in their own dancers.

"Our goal is to raise versatile dancers, so that they don't miss out on a part because they couldn't do a certain style," Fleischer explained.

Tickets for the studio's production of "The Nutcracker" are available to reserve online at www.elevationdancestudio.com. They are $20 for adults and $15 for kids 10 and under. Shows are 1 and 6 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.

Madison Ruppel, a senior at Steamboat Springs High School, is working as a fall intern for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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