Partnering in ‘The Nutcracker:’ leads on finding balance, cohesion


Dancers from a past production of Chico Performances and Chico Community Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” partnering during a scene. This year’s show opens 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at Laxson Auditorium. Photo courtesy of Chico Performances.

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Relying on someone to lift you higher, make your jumps more extreme and help present your dancing flawlessly and elegantly may seem like a tall order, but it’s something the dancers of Chico Community Ballet do every day.

Partner dancing is a major component of the company and Chico Performances’ production of “The Nutcracker,” which runs Dec. 4-7 at Laxson Auditorium. The holiday tradition will also feature local ballet dancers and leads Jenna Large (Clara), Jake Bevens (The Nutcracker) and Sofia Allmon (Snow Queen).

“I have never really partnered with someone before,” said Allmon. “All the sudden you are working with someone that you have never worked with before. And you have to make your movements blend together so that they look smooth on stage.”

There are a lot of complexities of partner dancing that the audience doesn’t see, she said, from preparing for a lift or practicing “certain ways to move the body” so that there is “cohesion” in the dance.

Allmon worked with her partner three times a week just on finding balance. Once partners have found a rhythm, Allmon said, it is all about improving it and making it better and more impressive.

“You just keep working on it,” she said. “Sometimes you have off days, and then you have to reset yourself so that you can continue forward.”

Sometimes dancers have to be prepared to partner last-minute.

“The (Nutcracker) prince that is coming to dance with me is actually a professional dancer from Los Angeles,” said Large, who will play Clara.

The Nutcracker will be played by Bevens, a seasoned Chico Community Ballet dancer who has also performed at Tokyo Disneyland and worked with famous choreographers in L.A. Bevens wasn’t able to rehearse with Large until Nov. 24.

Large said that partnering also plays a big role in auditions. How well a dancer’s auditions go depend on if the performer is flexible enough to have a stand-in partner.

Stand-in Clinton Bell rehearsed with Large until Bevens arrived in Chico.

“He volunteered to step in and help me with my rehearsals and help with the lifts,” she said. “Because I can’t practice the lifts on my own.”

Large is confident that this year’s Nutcracker is going to be a great show, despite the limited rehearsal time with Bevens, because the pair have danced together before.

“(Bevens) was my prince last Nutcracker,” she said. “We know how we dance together, and we are a good match.”

“It’s going to be great show,” Bevens added. “I am really looking forward to coming home and performing.”


Performance Details

  • Date: Dec 4-7
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. Dec 4-6 and 2 p.m. Dec 6-7
  • Location: Laxson Auditorium
  • Price for Chico State student: $10


Tickets can be bought online or at the University Box Office.

Kristen Moran can be reached at [email protected] or @Kristenvmoran on Twitter.