The Nutcracker ballet returns to Southwood Middle in December

Pictured (l-r) are Olivia Cosio, Emely Zamora and Leslie De Los Reyes as they rehearse for the production.

Once every three years Southwood Middle School’s Magnet Dance program presents its traditional holiday production of The Nutcracker ballet. This year marks the return of the special event and it takes place on Dec. 6 and 7, 7 p.m., in the school auditorium.

Hilda M. Jimenez, Magnet Dance director at Southwood, said that 110 students are involved in the production, along with professional guest artists dancing the role of Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier.

Pictured during rehearsal are (l-r) Emely Zamora, Ginger Grande, Marcelina Lancaster and Leslie De Los Reyes.

“Our Magnet Dance program is a three year program and The Nutcracker is done every three years, so every dancer will have the opportunity to be in it one of the three years they are here,” said Jimenez, who is in her 18th year at the school. Besides the dance students, students from magnet programs such as drama, music, photography and other departments are involved in the production.

“I think it’s important for all artists to experience other art forms because at some point you will cross over into one of the art forms,”

Jimenez said. “As an artist you want to be well rounded or at the very least be exposed to other forms that you are not a part of. In addition, collaborating with other departments brings the school together and gives us all a sense of family and great school spirit.” Jimenez, who currently is the school’s only dance director, said that the way the students, parents, school staff and others all pitch in is what makes it such a spectacular production with the costumes, sets and other details.

“My program could not ever survive or exist to the caliber it does if it wasn’t for all the parent and faculty and staff participation,” Jimenez said. “There are many details that go into having a top notch program and it can’t be done by one person.”

“In addition, I think it sends a positive message to the dancers and the community to see their parents and many teachers getting involved. It makes the dancers feel special and these great adults are setting a fantastic example for all. I encourage all dance teachers to embrace their parents, faculty and staff, they make a world of difference.”

Rehearsals have been underway for weeks already and continue as the dance students fine tune their performances. All seem to be excited about participating in this year’s production.

“I feel honored to be in such a special event as The Nutcracker because it’s a well known ballet that will be part of my dance memories forever,” said 13-yearold Alexis Leonard. “I was very excited when I was picked as the lead Candy Cane and I know this will only enhance my future in dance.”

Ginger Grande, also 13 years old, is looking forward to the event as well.

“To be participating in The Nutcracker is such a privilege because not many dancers ever have the opportunity to be part of something so magical,” Grande said. “It’s a great experience for all and now for me as the role of Dew Drop.”

Thirteen-year-old Emely Zamora agrees, remembering past productions she has seen.

“Participating in The Nutcracker has always been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and to be the Snow Queen has made it even more special,” she said.

Southwood Middle School is located at 16301 SW 80 Ave. in Palmetto Bay.

Tickets will be sold one week in advance at the school — $5 for students and children, $10 for adults, all general seating. For information call magnet lead teacher Mrs. Llano at 305-251-5361, ext. 2224.

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