Gregory Hancock has put a unique twist in casting for “The Nutcracker.”
Twins Vincent and Violet Kitchen are cast in key roles.
“The twins portray the homeless orphans not only separately, but also together in selected performances,” said Hancock, executive artistic director of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre. “This unique casting may never happen again, with twins who are the correct age and skill level to accomplish the title role. The role is usually reserved for a young female dancer, so it is wonderful to see a young male dancer in the (main) role and then adorable to see the twins perform the roles of Klara and Klarence together.”
The twins, who are Fishers Junior High School seventh-graders, perform in The Academy of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker” Dec. 1-10 at The Florence, 335 Gradle Dr., Carmel.
“Getting to dance alone and with Vincent is very exciting and fun,” Violet said. “When Vincent and I dance together on stage, I can always count on him to calm my nerves. When we are on stage together, I feel I can connect to the emotions of the story because Vincent is not only my twin brother in the show, but in real life, too. Dancing alone, I know I have to push myself to own the stage and to portray the emotion of the hardship of homelessness. I love getting to dance with Vincent, and I also love having the chance to dance the lead alone.”
Vincent said he also enjoys having the opportunity to dance the lead solo and perform a duet with his sister.
“Dancing as the lead as a solo has been incredible, and I’m very honored to be the first male Klarence in Mr. Hancock’s production of ‘The Nutcracker,’” Vincent said. “I have been working very hard and I hope my performance does not disappoint.”
Vincent said he and his sister work well as a team.
“I’ve always loved dancing in Mr. Hancock’s productions, but this year will be special sharing the lead with my sister,” Vincent said.
Hancock said his company’s contemporary production of “The Nutcracker” has always been a unique production in that it follows a similar storyline as the classic production but with an updated and contemporary twist, where Klara is an orphan child who is homeless and receives a broken nutcracker doll from a homeless person.
“Due to acts of kindness, her world is magically changed,” Hancock said.
Hancock said another unique feature of GHDT’s production is the inclusion of international music from Spain, Russia, Africa, China, Afghanistan and France in variations from Act II.
Hancock said three graduating seniors, Audrey Holloway, Heritage Christian School; Hillary Riley, Carmel High School; and Audrey Springer, Noblesville High School, who are all students at The Academy of GHDT, share the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Nutcracker Prince and a soloist in one of the international variations of Act II Afghanistan.
“Dancing as all three characters is a lot of fun and an exciting challenge,” Springer said. “Sugar Plum and Prince are roles that I have watched since I was a young fairy in my first performance of GHDT’S ‘The Nutcracker,’ and it’s hard to believe that I am now the ‘older girl’ inspiring the younger kids in these soloist roles.”
Holloway said it has been her dream to perform the lead roles in “The Nutcracker.”
“It is hard to believe that 14 years ago I performed in this show for the very first time. I started as a tiny unicorn and now have the unbelievable opportunity to dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Nutcracker Prince and Afghanistan soloist,” Holloway said. “It is interesting to see how each of us portrays the characters differently and are able to give the audience a unique experience at every show. It is a blessing to be able to share the roles with two strong dancers and get to know them on a deeper level.”
Riley said the opportunity has tested her skills and ability to adapt quickly.
“Through the process, I have discovered multiple sides of myself as a performer,” she said. “The best thing about triple casting is the ability to relate to your peers and help each other out.”
For more, visit gregoryhancockdancetheatre.org.