In many ways, Haliburton County and Heritage Ballet’s The Nutcracker are synonymous with the Christmas season.

The iconic ballet comes to the stage of the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion for the 16th time this weekend.

Heritage Ballet’s Julie Barban said it is the biggest cast ever – with 82 children – and about 10 adults, performing Friday and Saturday.

“We’re up 10 kids,” Barban said during rehearsal last Saturday. “We now have 82 kids. We had 72 last year. So, that’s kind of new.”

She added that Ania Smolen will play The Sugar Plum Fairy this year. She’ll also play The Peacock.


“She was also The Peacock last year and she wanted to do it again,” Barban said.

She added that with all of the new, young dancers, she has added a few extra things, which she always does.

Asked how she can keep the momentum going year after year, Barban said, “it has become a tradition and sometimes I wonder, oh my gosh, it would be nice to take a break but I don’t know. I still love it just as much as the kids do. I don’t see it ending for a while.”

She said the other endearing thing for her about The Nutcracker is the music.

“I never seem to tire of the music. That’s not totally true. After the Nutcracker, I don’t want to listen to it for a while, but then as soon as I hear it, I have the dances in my head.”

She said Dani Smolen is again busy working on costumes. She said she’s been redoing all of The Snowflake costumes.

“I haven’t even seen them, so it’s going to be a surprise to me. And then there’s a new Spanish. We did get a new Chinese costume this year because the other one was showing its age.” She added there are new poinsettias and flowers as well.

They all began work on the ballet in late September, so with this weekend’s performances finally upon them, Barban said, “I’m feeling excited.” She is also looking forward to a nice long break afterwards.

Charlotte Moynes, 13, has four characters to play, including the Raven Queen, Snowflake Three and a Big Soldier. This is her seventh Nutcracker.

“It’s kind of nerve wracking because it’s very stressful to get everything done for the fast changes,” she said of the upcoming shows. She added that “in the big dances, it’s harder, because with Snowflake Three, there’s so many kids.”

Despite the challenges, she is really looking forward to it.

“I think it’s kind of cool. Professional dancers are doing it and then Julie puts together choreography for our own ages and she makes everyone feel included and like they have their own personal role.”

Shows are Friday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7 at 2 and 7 p.m. See: or contact Barban directly: 705-457-1990

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