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Locals take stage in ‘The Nutcracker’

Grace Downey, and Angus KaneLong, both 11 and residents of Easthampton, will perform the lead children’s roles of Clara and Fritz in Pioneer Valley Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” next month at the Academy of Music in Northampton.

Downey, a sixth-grader at White Brook Middle School, has been dancing with Pioneer Valley Ballet since she was 4. Over the past seven years she has performed in “The Nutcracker” as well as other Pioneer Valley Ballet productions, including “Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella.”

“I remember dancing with the girl who played Clara in ‘The Nutcracker’ when I was a little girl,” said Downey. “I was a Candy Cane that year. She seemed so happy playing her part. I hoped I could play that role some day, and now I am!”

KaneLong, who is home-schooled, has been dancing with Pioneer Valley Ballet for the past four years. He has performed in Pioneer Valley Ballet’s productions of “The Nutcracker,” “Aladdin,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella.”

“I have wanted to play Fritz ever since I was cast as a Party Boy in my first Nutcracker,” said KaneLong. “The day of auditions, when I found out I was cast as Fritz, was the best day of my life so far!”

The 34th annual production, directed by Maryanne Kodzis and Thomas Vacanti, runs Dec. 7 to 9 at the historic Academy of Music in Northampton.

Performances are at 4 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 and 1 and 4:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9.

The production features a cast of more than 200 dancers, ranging in age from 5 to adult, from across the Pioneer Valley. Joining them will be guest artists from the Carolina Ballet, Ballet Rox and elsewhere.

Tickets will be available online and also in person. Tickets may be purchased at Academy of Music box office, Tuesday to Friday, 3 to 6 p.m., and online at online at www.pioneervalleyballet.tix.com. For more information call 413-527-6363 or visit www.pioneervalleyballet.org.

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