Plymouth-Canton Ballet's Nutcracker a Family Tradition

Teri Furr of Canton attended Sunday's show at Salem High School with her daughter and grandchildren.

Canton resident Teri Furr, as is her tradition, attended Sunday's afternoon performance of Plymouth-Canton Ballet's The Nutcracker at . Michigan Philharmonic, directed by Nan Washburn, provided live music for the show.

The Nutcracker, which tells the story of young Clara and the adventures she has with a soldier-nutcracker come to life, has been a Christmas classic for decades.

This year, Reid Conlon danced dual featured roles, the Nutcracker and the Snow King; Olivia Lovsin danced as Clara.

During intermission, Furr posed for a photo with her three grandchildren and their aunt, one of Furr's daughters, ballet teacher Julie Knakal of Walled Lake.

Knakal, Furr quickly noted, is a Plymouth-Canton Ballet alumna who performed in the company's production of The Nutcracker first as a mouse, then in 1993, as Clara.

"It was just fun when I was little. I had no idea it would be part of my life so many years later," said Knakal, a ballet teacher at in Canton — her students include Conlon and Lovsin.

Dancing with the same company over the years, she said, "was the biggest reward you can have."

Conlon mom, Kellee Cragin, peeked into the theater from time to time while volunteering to sell baked goods in support of the ballet company. Conlon has danced for about 10 years and has had smaller roles in The Nutcracker.

"He's worked really hard. It's nice seeing him be rewarded," she said. Over the years, he's played several other characters in the show but "he was never a mouse."

Dawn Greene, a long-time Canton resident transplanted to Grosse Ile, directs the the Metro Shores Ballet and the Plymouth-Canton Ballet Company. She didn't have to look far to find a talented guest dancer for the show: Dawnell Dryja, a Canton native, a dancer for the Grand Rapids Ballet — and Greene's daughter.

Beck Greene, who works with his wife Dawn on the productions said the show features changes every year, from costumes or choreography.

But Knakal noticed one thing that never changes — she said "the orchestra sounds amazing and the dancers look like they're having as much fun as I did."

The shows repeat at 5 p.m. Dec. 17 and 2 p.m. Dec. 18 at the Grosse Ile High School Auditorium.


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