Sugar Plum Fairies dancing, the Snow Queen, a battle between toy soldiers and mice, and a Nutcracker Prince mean only one thing: the holiday season is once again upon us, bringing music and wonder to life.

The Black Hills Dance Theatre presents "The Nutcracker," Saturday, Dec. 2., at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Theatre. The legendary holiday ballet made its debut in the area in 1968 and performs shows every other year. Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa with music composed by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, the show is a favorite during Christmas and many families make it an annual tradition to attend the performance.

BHDT president Joleen Zoller noted a few changes for this year's performance but anticipates that audiences will still enjoy the show.

“We have a shortened version of the show this year, just over an hour long. We also have some things that people have not seen before,” she said.

The decision to shorten the show was that of choreographer Kenna Draxton. She had a different vision for the show after performing it for 20 years.

“There’s a lot of logistics for the first act, between scenery and props, so we decided to introduce the beginning of the story on stage. The grandfather will be reading to the kids, and Clara will be there with them but then she’ll branch off into a dream world,” she said

This year’s show features professional dancers from Ballet Arizona. The company was founded in 1986 and occupies a prominent place in American ballet. Amber Lewis and Jackson Dwyer will make their appearances as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, respectively. This will be both Lewis and Dwyer’s first time in South Dakota. Lewis hails from Australia and Dwyer is a dual-citizen of the U.S. and Canada.

Bringing Lewis and Dwyer on board for the show was an easy choice for Draxton. She had danced with them for Ballet Arizona and had become very good friends with them over the years. This year’s show will also feature a new group of kids dancing.

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“It’s been a pleasure working with the kids. I have really enjoyed it,” Draxton said.

Draxton danced for Ballet Arizona for 14 years before retiring in June. She felt that this was a nice way to transition from dancer to choreographer.

“This would have been the first year that I wasn’t involved in this show, after performing it for 20 years,” she said.

There are two shows Dec. 2, one at 2 p.m. and one at 7 p.m. Doors open one hour prior to show times. Ticket prices range from $15 to $37 and are available at the Civic Center box office, by calling 1-800-GOT-MINE or online at gotmine.com.

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