Annual Nutcracker performance this week

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Northwest Ballet Co. Principal Julia Esakoff plays the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy. (Trevon Baker Photography)

For 40 years the Northwest Ballet has been providing dance to local families, and for 30 years has been bringing “The Nutcracker” to audiences around the Flathead. This year's annual production is the 24th that the company will bring to the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts on Thanksgiving weekend.

“The Nutcracker was such a big production in the early years of the school that it wasn't performed every season,” Director Marisa Roth explained. “When I went through the ranks of the what was then the Kalispell Ballet Company, I only had the privilege of performing in the show every other year.”

Now Roth's dancers enjoy five shows every season, and their audiences do as well. This season boasts another production featuring Northwest Ballet Co. dancers, Northwest Ballet School students, community guest participants, colorful costumes, props, choreography, a timeless Christmas story and composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's music.

Regarding her final season with the Northwest Ballet Co., Principal Julia Esakoff said “After dancing for 15 years, I'm so excited for my 12th ‘Nutcracker' performance, and dancing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy! It's bittersweet that this is my final ‘Nutcracker,' as I will miss Marisa and my dance family, but I am looking forward to what my future holds.”

Tickets for reserved seating for the Thanksgiving weekend's event are available now until show days at the Kalispell Grand Hotel, 100 Main St., Kalispell, 406-755-8100. On show days, tickets will be available at the Bigfork Center's box office one hour before the performances start. Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors 65 and older, and $15 for children 12 and younger.

Performances are at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24, and Saturday, Nov. 25; and 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26, at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts. The Sugar Plum Fairy Parade will follow the 2 p.m. matinées on Friday and Saturday.

For more information, call the Northwest Ballet at 406-755-0760, or http://www.northwestballet.com.

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