Performances a fun way for families to start holiday season

Published in the December 7 – 20, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Marty Cheek

Photo by Marty Cheek SVDA dancers perform a scene during the BookSmart ribbon cutting Nov. 12.

Photo by Richard E. Barber
SVDA dancers perform a scene during the BookSmart ribbon cutting Nov. 12.

Every holiday season, the magical world of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” comes to life with local young performers transforming into dancing sugar plum fairies, flowers and cookies. South Valley families will be enchanted this year by the South Valley Dance Art’s version of the popular Christmas-time ballet which features action, romance and several surprises.

Performing in the festive ballet is a fun way for many residents in Morgan Hill, Gilroy and San Martin to bring Yuletide joy to others through the artistry of dance. Among them is Jenna Kammann’s daughters Sophia Johnson, 12, a seventh grader at Oakwood School, and Ava Johnson, 10, a fifth grader at Oakwood School. Kammann and her husband help out working on the backstage getting the dancers ready.

“This ‘Nutcracker’ is the fourth performance our family has been a part of through South Valley Dance Arts,” Kammann said. “The ballet is such a great way for our family to kick off the whole holiday season, and it would not be the same without it. It has become quite a tradition for our entire family.”

SVDA and the instructors have really fostered a love of dance in Sophia and Ava, she said. The ballet instructors expect the dancers to work hard and have high expectations for their performances, but they encourage them with such kindness and positivity.

nutcracker-12“My husband and I are so thankful for that. It really is like a second family at our studio for us, and they both have so many dance friends,” she said. “The productions that my daughters are in as dancers at SVDA are a way for them to build their confidence and self esteem by being on stage in front of a full audience, showcase all their hard work that they have done leading up to the show and of course is so much fun.”

Kammann encourages South Valley families to come to see SVDA’s “The Nutcracker” this year because it is a beautiful tradition for more than a decade. This year’s performance will bring new elegant choreography and some new exciting props including a canon, she said.

Juliet Smith, SVDA’s artistic director, said the group’s “Nutcracker” has something special for everyone and is a heart-warming show that is inclusive and accessible to girls, boys, the young and old.

“It has everything — sword fighting rats and soldiers, an exploding canon, a growing Christmas tree, a seven-foot Ginger Lady, snow falling on vivid character dances from around the world, bravery, true love — it’s thrilling for all audiences and our dancers love to perform it,” she said. “Nothing brings on the holiday spirit like ‘The Nutcracker.’”


Part of SVDA’s mission is to introduce the community to classical art, she said. Taking children to see “The Nutcracker” with their family for the first time will be an important introduction to classical music and live performing art, often instilling a lifelong love of the arts.

“The breathtaking score was composed and created in a time of innocence and innovation,” Smith said. “It was conceived in an era of collaboration when artists of all mediums collaborated with inventors and intellectuals. At SVDA we also try to keep that collaborative tradition alive by collaborating with local artists for our sets, costumes and choreography — everything in SVDA’s ‘Nutcracker’ is local, not just the dancers, but the choreography, construction, graphics, backdrops and costumes.”

With its 2016 production of “The Nutcracker,” SVDA will include cameo appearances by the prominent luminaries such as Nickolai Tesla and Marie Curie from the late 1800s when the story is set.

“Each year, SVDA strives to bring the magic and wonder of the Christmas season to the stage through this beautiful performance,” she said. “Our talented dancers, vibrant costumes and sets, and special surprises tell a simple but beautiful story. It is our hope to inspire and entertain audience members of all ages.”


What: The Nutcracker
When: 7 p.m. Friday Dec. 9, and 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Dec. 10
Where: Ann Sobrato Performing Arts Center
Tickets: $20, available at Booksmart, 1295 E. Dunne Ave. Suite 120, Brown Paper Bag Tickets ( & South Valley Dance Arts, 40 East 4th St., Morgan Hill.

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi is the editor of Morgan Hill Life newspaper. If you have a story idea or an Around Town column item you want to tell him about, you can reach him at (408) 427-5865 or at
Robert Airoldi