Practically since its 1892 premiere, Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” has helped families around the world ring in the holiday season.
The ballet, adapted from Alexandre Dumas’ “The Nutcracker,” which was itself adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” tells the story of a young girl who receives a nutcracker for Christmas.
The nutcracker magically comes to life and, with Clara’s help, defeats the evil Mouse King in a battle before taking Clara to the Land of Sweets to celebrate their victory.
This year, the tradition of seeing “The Nutcracker” will be a little different for the Staben family, as three Staben sisters – Jennika, Kiersty and Jacqueline – will dance in the show, which features Santa Barbara, California’s State Street Ballet, local dancers and the Spokane Symphony.
“The Nutcracker” opens Thursday and continues its run through Sunday at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox.
Jennika, 16, began dancing when she was 3 and sees ballet as a creative outlet.
“I have class after school almost everyday, so it’s a nice break from school,” she said. “I can go into my own little place where I can just dance.”
Kiersty, 14, also started dancing when she was 3.
“I feel like it’s a really creative art where you can become a different character,” she said.
Jacqueline, 9, simply wanted to follow in her sisters’ footsteps.
“I did it because Jennika and Kiersty did it and I wanted to try out,” she said.
The Staben sisters, who dance at Spokane Ballet Studio, auditioned for “The Nutcracker” in September and having been rehearsing about once a week since then.
Jennika plays a tall angel and will perform in the second act.
“Basically, we dance with the little angels, which come on, which are the smaller ones that aren’t on pointe shoes,” she said. “Then Clara comes in at the end after we do our dance, with the prince.”
Kiersty plays a soldier and appears in the first act.
“It’s right after the party scene and it’s the battle between Clara and the Rat Queen,” she said. “We dance alongside the professional company and the mice.”
Jacqueline plays a bon bon and will also perform in the second act.
“I get to hold hands with a big skirt person,” she said, referring to the Mother Ginger character.
The sisters have performed in recitals at Spokane Ballet Studio before, but this is the first year they’ve all performed in “The Nutcracker” together. They’re enjoying seeing each other dance in such an iconic ballet.
“It’s cool because during the dress rehearsal we get to see each other perform and it’s a cool experience to be with the company too,” Jennika said.
Thinking back to their first time seeing “The Nutcracker,” the trio remembers being in awe of the nutcracker coming to life and the variety of dances Clara sees in the Land of Sweets.
According to the Stabens, it’s elements like those that make “The Nutcracker” such a beloved show.
“It’s just so magical since it’s around Christmastime,” Kiersty said. “It gets you in the holiday spirit and gets you so excited.”