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Monterey County Dance Theatre to hold first live, in-person performance in almost two years

Chloe Arriaga is cast as the Sugar Plum Fairy in this year's performance of The Nutcracker by the Monterey County Dance Theatre.
Monterey County Dance Theatre
Chloe Arriaga is cast as the Sugar Plum Fairy in this year's performance of The Nutcracker by the Monterey County Dance Theatre.

After almost two years with no live, in-person performances, the Monterey County Dance Theatre is finally returning to the stage to perform the 62nd Nutcracker Ballet at the Robert Stanton Theatre in King City in December.

When the pandemic hit California, Monterey County Dance Theatre closed — and stayed closed — for 380 days.

Janette Harkness is the theatre’s artistic director. She said the theatre held a virtual performance of The Nutcracker last year, but this December will be the first time the dancers will be back in front of a live audience since 2019.

“One year, 11 months and some days, we’ll finally hit the stage again," Harkness said.

Harkness said the closure was hard for business because they had to maintain expenses and secure outdoor areas for the students to train.

“Like a lot of dance schools in the United States, we nearly closed," she said.

Harkness said the theatre started holding practices at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds, and they lost a lot of students because of the challenges of performing outside of a studio.

Teri Storelli is the president of the Monterey County Dance Foundation, a nonprofit that helps raise money for the school. She said sticking around through the closure felt purposeful for a lot of the dancers.

“Ballet was what they held on to," Storelli said. "They kept coming every week and dancing out in barns and wherever we needed to be because it was something that was normal. It was something to cling to. It was a time that, even though you couldn’t get close to your friends, they were there.”

Harkness says this upcoming performance has a lot of meaning for the dancers that endured the early days of the pandemic.

“It is their leap forward, and this Nutcracker of all Nutcrackers will always reign supreme in the fact that they triumphed, that they didn’t quit. They persevered," Harkness said.

The Nutcracker will run December 10, 11 and 12. Attendance will be capped at one third capacity and masks will be required indoors as a COVID safety precaution. Proof of vaccination is not required for attendance.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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