Special performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ adds jazz twist Wednesday in Ogden

Dec 13, 2023, 1:44 AM | Updated: 7:28 am

OGDEN — A very special performance of “The Nutcracker” hits the stage Wednesday at Ogden’s Peery Egyptian Theater, a jazzy twist on the original ballet production.

It’s called the Jazzy Nutcracker and it’s set to music from Duke Ellington’s interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s score. The collection of dances is performed by the Imagine Ballet Theatre dancers and their PALS class, which stands for Performing Artists Lengthening Strides, which is a dance group featuring dancers with special needs.

There are 13 PALS dancers of all ages who perform on stage during the one-night production. Jessica Gabler is the artistic director for PALS. She’s taught dance for decades and got involved with PALS two years ago.

“Teaching PALS has been a pretty life-changing experience for me,” Gabler told KSL TV. As a professionally trained dancer, she says the group has brought back the simple joy of dance.

“It’s given me a lot of joy and taken me back to the basics of like what dance is all about,” Gabler said.

James Fitzpatrick, a man with Down syndrome, has been involved in PALS for years. He loves getting on stage and dancing with his friends.

Elle Erling, one of the Imagine Ballet dancers is in her second year working with the PALS class too.

“It’s heartwarming, it’s amazing,” Erling said. “It’s great because you can tell that they love it so much and they connect to you.”

She said the neurodiverse dancers have taught her too.

“They can do anything they put their mind to and watching them be happy and loving this element of dance, that is really special,” she said.

The performance begins Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at ogdenpet.com/events/2023/jazzy-nut-cracker.

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Special performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ adds jazz twist Wednesday in Ogden