Around 200 students of Shirley McDouall School of Dance will swap their leotards for costumes when they perform The Nutcracker, a famous ballet set to one of the most recognised pieces of classical music on the planet.
"It's a traditional ballet," Director Melissa Tate said. "We're doing the full length version which we don't often get to see in Whanganui."
Tate was a student at the school and now owns it. After studying at the NZ School of Dance she toured in the famous Footnote Dance Company returning to Whanganui to teach.
In 2011 Tate received international recognition for gaining the highest mark in the world in her Teachers Associate Dance Exam, and flew to London to accept the Giles Bursary from the International Dance Teachers Association.
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This production of the Nutcracker took over the Opera House last week where a small army of volunteers sewed, stapled and organised to the strains of Tchaikovsky. For many dancers and crew, it's not their first time, but all the experience in the world doesn't mean it's a sure thing.
"The amount of students that we have on stage from the junior school at one time is certainly a challenge," Tate said. "Because if anybody is eight counts off that's it, the whole ballet can be ruined so it's quite amazing, if it works out."
Tickets are still available online or at the Opera House for afternoon shows at 3pm on Saturday and Sunday.
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