By DEVIN WEEKS
COEUR d’ALENE — Ballerina slippers touched down without a sound as cascades of arms and legs flowed across the dance floor of Le Danse Studio.
The dancers gracefully leapt and twirled, synchronizing their steps while Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers" poured into the room.
Emily Dean, 16, of Coeur d'Alene, has been dancing since she was 3. This will be her 10th year performing in "The Nutcracker."
"I love the atmosphere of it," she said just before rehearsal Friday afternoon.
She said Christmas is her favorite holiday, so naturally "The Nutcracker" holds a special place in her heart.
"There’s just always so much to do and so much to see, all the lights and the snow. I absolutely love it all," she said, adding that "The Nutcracker" is "just the cherry on top."
Le Danse Studio owner Debi Terracciano has again invited the Eugene Ballet Company to perform the fantasy ballet with local youths. This is the 14th year Le Danse and Eugene Ballet will bring this musical holiday tradition to Coeur d'Alene.
It all started 15 years ago when Terracciano helped with a Eugene Ballet production of "The Nutcracker" in Sandpoint. She inquired why the company didn't perform in Coeur d'Alene and found out it lacked a sponsor.
"So I said I would do it," Terracciano said. "It's a lot of work, but so worth it when the music starts and to see how excited all the kids are to be on stage with the Eugene Ballet Co."
"The Nutcracker" provides a host of Christmas magic for all ages, including toys that come to life, colorful costumes, a battle scene and more.
“We have fake snow that falls," Emily said. "The people that are in the scene have so much fun with it."
The 2017 production features 52 local dancers — the "baby mice," ages 5-7; "angels," ages 7-9; "bonbons," ages 9-11; "party children" age 11-16; and "flowers," ages 13-17.
Ivy Shadrick, 13, of Coeur d'Alene, is now a "flower" but started as a "mouse" when she was 5. She said she wanted to perform in one final show because her family is moving to Indonesia in January.
"I really like dancing with the company. Just seeing them dance is really inspiring," she said. "I really hope that a lot of people come and just have fun and enjoy the spirit of 'The Nutcracker.'”
Terracciano said she has seen many versions of "Nutcracker" through the years, but what she enjoys about the local rendition is that it has something for everyone.
"Excitement for the little ones, humor for the adults and the Eugene Ballet Co. dancers are amazing dancers and athletes," she said. "The party scene is magical, the mouse scene is comical, the snow scene is beautiful and snowy and the dances in the Land of the Sweets are breathtaking."
Eugene Ballet, of Oregon, is under the leadership of award-winning artistic director and resident choreographer Toni Pimble. Terracciano said this company is "a very special group of people."
"When they are on stage with our local children they are kind, helpful and loving," she said. "They make this opportunity for our children very special and a night to remember."
"The Nutcracker" will be on the North Idaho College Schuler Performing Arts Center stage Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for kids 18 and younger. One child younger than 12 gets in free with the purchase of an adult ticket.
Tickets are on sale now at Le Danse Studio, 1917 N. Fifth St. or by calling 208-667-3342.