Ahwatukee is about to see the culmination of four months of hard work as Dance Studio 111 puts on the “Ahwatukee Foothills Nutcracker Ballet” for its 16th year. And this year, studio owner Kimberly Lewis says it’s set to be no less magical than in previous years.

“This is a magical tradition in our community where angels dance on clouds, dolls and clowns, and of course the ‘Nutcracker’ comes to life as a Christmas tree grows through the ceiling and snowflakes dance on stage,” Lewis said.

The performance is entirely composed of kids, with some being as young as 2 years old and others as old as 19. The dances for the show are uniquely choreographed each year by choreographers Jill Hammond and Meghan Arena, and the lead of the Sugarplum Fairy will be played by Olivia Gregg, who three years ago was the youngest to play that role at 12 years old.

“She is lovely and truly is so talented – she could currently be dancing this role in New York at the American Ballet Theatre,” Lewis said. “The talent we have in our ‘Nutcracker’ this year is unbelievable.”

The “Nutcracker” performance was recently named one of the must-see sights by AZ Central and has been met with wide aplomb from Ahwatukee and the greater Phoenix area, yet Dance Studio 111 is still relying on public support to ensure this performance will be a success.

“We would love to see all three shows sold out this year,” Lewis said. “The cast works very hard every weekend since August preparing to bring the ‘Nutcracker’ to the stage, and we need the support of our community to attend our performance of the ‘Nutcracker’ so we can continue to bring this holiday tradition to our community for years to come and be around for generations to enjoy.”

There will be three performances this year scheduled for Friday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Desert Vista Fine Arts Theatre, 16440 S. 32nd St., with the last performance concluding with the audience being encouraged to sing Christmas carols as Santa Claus makes a special appearance.

With all the hard work far from behind the cast and instructors, Lewis said she enjoys reflecting on the success of the event and how, after 16 years, she has the chance to be a genuine part of the community.

“Our community has supported our ballet every holiday season and because this is now our 16th year we have the next generation of dancers in this performance,” she said. “This has become an annual holiday tradition where families have told me they would not miss the ‘Ahwatukee Foothills Nutcracker Ballet’ because it has been their family’s holiday tradition every year and each year they look forward to the magic of our ‘Nutcracker.’”

As for the response from the audience, Lewis said what she hears most is “how amazed they are with the talent of these young dancers.

“They cannot believe at their young age how well trained and how beautiful they dance and perform,” Lewis said. “They also love the beautiful hand-sewn costumes and the detail we put into the entire of production.”

To purchase tickets, visit Dance Studio 111, 4910 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 111, call 480-706-6040 or email afnutcracker@gmail.com. Any remaining tickets will also be sold at the Desert Vista box office an hour before the start of the show.

• Contact writer: 480-898-7914 or jgingerich@ahwatukee.com.

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