Sellwood's Classic Ballet Academy again takes the stage in Downtown Portland in December

DAVID F. ASHTON - Taking a break from rehearsing the Classic Ballet Academys presentation A Christmas Carol are (standing): Sydney Erlandson, playing Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be; Merlin Benneth, playing Scrooge; and Kathe Blumklotz playing the Ghost of Christmas Present. (Seated:) Ellery Ott as Ghost of Christmas Past, and Sophie Marcus playing the ghost of Marley.  In almost any city across the country, a company of dancers will perform "The Nutcracker" ballet during the Holiday season.

While Classic Ballet Academy dancers indeed gave their own acclaimed "The Nutcracker" ballet performances again this year at the Portland State University Theater, the director of the Sellwood ballet school's contemporary modern jazz and fusion program, Sissy Dawson, wanted to add a new and contemporary show.

"While considering story ideas, our school's director, Sarah Rigles, suggested 'A Christmas Carol'. After I listened to the original Broadway recording of that production, I fell in love with the music, and discovered it lends itself really easily to dance," Dawson told THE BEE.

Working with Academy's Susan Fischer, Lauren Layman, and Gail Black, the four of them choreographed the two-hour show, which featured 150 dancers from age ten up to their "returning student", who was playing Ebenezer Scrooge, Merlin Benneth.

While the narrative of "The Nutcracker" is told through pantomime, the story of "A Christmas Carol" is conveyed in the lyrics of the songs, as the dancers acted out the scenes in the shows presented December 13 and 14 at P.S.U., Dawson said.

"It's really exciting creating a new ballet – and the most fun part is seeing the kids get excited about the parts they play!"

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