Dance Theatre Northwest to stage traditional ‘Nutcracker’


Dance Theatre Northwest features New York’s Richard Philion and DTNW’s Oceana Thunder in their upcoming performances of “The Nutcracker.” 

The Nutcracker presented by Dance Theatre Northwest was designed to offer a warm and inviting community feeling, an excellent first-time dance experience and also one that is different and fresh each year with lots of dynamic dance. The intention is for each audience member to somehow be transformed into being part of a glamorous Nutcracker party and Clara’s magical dream. Many guests feel DTNW’s generous holiday spirit. Then somehow they are transformed into feeling like they are on the journey that visits the colorful dream scenes.

“Over and over I hear that children were transformed into a magical state and that parents were sometimes surprised by their attention to the detail of the performance. This is of particular interest to me as an artist,” said DTNW’s Artistic Director Melanie Kirk-Stauffer, “especially as I contemplate new productions, staging, choreography, and upcoming seasons. It is with this in mind that I have decided to tell the story of ‘Nutcracker’ as if it were a beloved bedtime story, in a slightly abbreviated production geared especially toward family audiences with children.”

Kirk-Stauffer said DTNW’s production is special in that it will be staged in a theater where the performers’ closeness is inviting and enables the dancers to relate more personally with their audience.

Oceana Thunder and Richard Philion in “The Nutcracker” pas de deux. Credit: Philander Eargle Courtesy of Dance Theatre Northwest

What really brings the show to life is Dance Theatre Northwest’s energetic, enthusiastic team of multi-talented performers and artists who will take you on an enchanted journey to faraway places. Added to that are beautiful hand painted backdrops, costumes and choreography that are always fresh and updated each year, a storyteller, and a slightly abbreviated story that still includes the vital elements like the Party Scene, Snow Scene, Magnificent Angel and Land of Sweets. You will meet up with exotic characters from foreign lands, wild mice and a dazzling snow scene, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and travel to an entire Kingdom of Sweets – all to Tchaikovsky’s magical, timeless score.  

New York guest artist Richard Philion will perform leading roles at all three performances. Originally from British Columbia, Philion trained at Canada’s National Ballet School and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. He had the opportunity to perform with the National Ballet of Canada numerous times including the world premiere of John Alleyne’s “Tristan and Isolde,” and was one of the first male dancers to achieve his advanced certification in the Cecchetti method of ballet in Western Canada. 

Other of Philion’s career highlights have included productions of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “Promises, Promises,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Sweet Charity,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Beauty and the Beast,” Jean Ann Ryan Productions, Royal Caribbean Productions (including Dancing with the Stars’ Louis Van Amstel’s production of “Invitation to Dance”), Albany Berkshire Ballet, Sarah Berges Contemporary Dance, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Galan Entertainment’s Tango Buenos Aires and the APEC Summit in Vladivostok, Russia.  

Oceana Thunder has performed many featured roles in DTNW’s repertoire of original choreography, as well as in “The Nutcracker” and “Sleeping Beauty,” including the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and Princess Aurora. She has also performed solo roles from Les Sylphides and Paquita and corps roles in “Swan Lake.” Thunder has attended DTNW intensives, and has traveled with the company to New York as part of their advanced dance education program. She studied for and passed her dance captain and teacher assistant certification in fall 2014. She has been the recipient of multiple May Bell Hansen and Joffrey Ballet Scholarships. Thunder currently studies ballet, pointe, partnering, jazz, tap, and musical theater. She joined the Junior Company in 2012, and was promoted to Advanced Junior Company in 2014, and to Company Member in 2018.

Many of DTNW’s talented performers and artists are residents of University place and Pierce County. This season, Emma Young will garner her first experience as the Dew Drop Fairy and Magnificent Angel. Other leading performers like Phoebe Holland have virtually grown up dancing here. What a treasure it is for our city to have its own resident dance company. 

DTNW’s “The Nutcracker” takes the stageon Saturday, Dec. 14 at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 15 at 4 p.m. at Mount Tahoma Auditorium, 4634 S. 74th St., Tacoma. Parking is free and the theater is handicapped accessible. Admission is $24-$28 for adults, $12-$14 seniors over 60, students and children. Group rates are available. Tickets are available at online as well as the Dance Theatre Northwest studios at  2811 Bridgeport Way West #24, in University Place. 

Want to order tickets on-line or get more information about Dance Theatre Northwest? Visit

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