By Staff Writers Ashley Chang and Mallika Gupta
Yoko’s Dance and Performing Arts Academy showcased its annual production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker on December 12 and 13 at Ohlone College’s Smith Center. The show made its debut more than 10 years ago as the first full-scale ballet production in Fremont and has since become a local tradition.
Yoko’s Dance and Performing Arts Academy offers classes for ages three to eighteen years old. Established by the late Yoko Young in 1995, the academy was recognized as one of the Top 50 Studios in the Nation by the Dance Spirit magazine. Young choreographed her version of The Nutcracker in 2005, and the original choreography remains set in the academy’s yearly production.
The performance featured 164 dancers, including students, adults, guest artists, two councilmembers, and Fremont mayor Bill Harrison. The production was directed by Erin LaMoyne and Megan Ellis with the third of the three shows accompanied by the Fremont Opera Orchestra, conducted by David Sloss. The performance highlighted several dancers through their beautiful solo performances, especially MSJ Senior Grace Dong, who reprised her role as the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Dong has been dancing for 12 years and has eight years of competitive dance experience. She has been involved in The Nutcracker since fourth grade and is now leaving the company as a high school senior after her third year as the Sugar Plum Fairy. “I guess the most sad part about this being my last Nutcracker is that I know that I won’t get this same opportunity again because it’s very unique for a high school student to be in a full-scale ballet production. And knowing that I’ve moved on from this stage of my life makes me very sad but I’m so grateful that I got this opportunity and got to make all of these memories and got to meet all of these people and got to dance on that stage for an audience,” Dong said.
While the production has expanded since its inception more than a decade ago, the academy plans on sticking to tradition in the years to come, showcasing The Nutcracker every holiday season.
Photos Courtesy of Fremont Bulletin and James Sakane