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Dancing in Nutcracker “Part of Christmas” for Santa Clara Teen

Santa Clara teen Tomie Ishimatsu is excited to be dancing in San Jose New Ballet’s Nutcracker. The young dancer has performed in eight Nutcrackers – one year she danced in two.

“Rehearsing for the Nutcracker is definitely part of Christmas for me,” said Ishimatsu. “There is always something undefined in the Nutcracker. It never gets boring. I enjoy the performance and I enjoy the time leading up to Christmas.”

Ishimatsu began studying ballet at the age of three at the Santa Clara recreation center, and at 13 she was studying with City Ballet School in San Francisco. This is her first Nutcracker with New Ballet and she will be dancing in several scenes, including Waltz of the Flowers.

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New Ballet’s Nutcracker sets the familiar story in turn-of-the-century San Jose, bringing in references to the history of San José and Santa Clara Valley, and featuring a live orchestra. Sets include the famous San Jose light tower and the first act’s costumes were inspired by dolls in the San Jose History Museum.

“The traditional Nutcracker choreography has a lot of stereotypes about race and culture,” said Ishimatsu. “This production eliminates those stereotypes.”

For example, last year the company had traditional Mexican folklorico instead of the conventional choreography for the Spanish dance — Spanish-looking costumes and classical ballet choreography. Among the dancing flowers in the Waltz of the Flowers will be the colors of tropical flowers, like bougainvillea, that grow in the Santa Clara Valley.

Although an accomplished dancer, the Santa Clara High School junior doesn’t plan to be a professional dancer.

“Definitely dance will be a part of my life,” Ishimatsu said. “But I don’t think, at this point, I want to do it professionally.”

The New Ballet’s Nutcracker runs from Dec. 16 through Dec. 18, with both evening and matinee performances in San Jose Historic California Theatre.

On Dec. 18 at 11 a.m., New Ballet presents “My Very First Nutcracker,” a one-hour performance for younger children. For information visit newballet.com/nutcracker.

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