While Christmas is still a long way off, work will soon begin on one of Manchester’s instant classics, the “Nutcracker Ballet.” 

Open auditions for the Manchester production will be held according to age group from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, at Duck River Dance, 121 E. Main St., in Manchester.

Carrie Barton, ballet instructor and 2017 Sugar Plum Fairy, said that the chance to dance the role was a dream come true.

“The role of being the Sugar Plum fairy is one of the roles that every dancer checks off their bucket list,” she said. “For me to be able to perform as the Sugar Plum Fairy meant everything for me as a dancer. The skill level, choreography and acting that is involved pushed me to execute everything gracefully and technically.”

A beloved classic, “The Nutcracker” is produced every other year by Duck River Dance and has become something of a holiday tradition for many of the families in the area.

This is the third “Nutcracker” the company has staged in Manchester and promises to be the best.

There will be new backdrops for the Snow Scene and Land Of The Sweets to help create a magical setting, and this year, Duck River Dance instructor and 2016 Sugar Plum Fairy Tricia Hiers will help with some of the choreography. 

Dancers (and non-dancers), male and from age 5 to adult are invited to attend auditions.

Females are asked to wear pink or tan tights, a solid leotard and a proper ballet bun. Males are asked to wear black tights or paints and a white shirt.

Shows run Dec. 6-8 at the Manchester Arts Center.


Auditions will be held by age.

Ages 5-7 – 10 a.m.

Ages 8-12 – 11 a.m.

Ages 13 – adults at noon

All en pointe dancers – 1 p.m.


The “The Nutcracker” is possibly the most produced ballet in the world. It offers roles for every age and skill level.

“When casting I watch not only the skills the dancer has but the enthusiasm and drive they display,” said studio owner and artistic director Danelle Afflerbaugh. “A performance like ‘The Nutcracker’ takes tremendous hard work to bring to the stage. If a dancer isn’t willing to put in the proverbial 110 percent at auditions, then they'll never work as hard as I need them to during rehearsals.”

Afflerbaugh said that like the holiday, the ballet has a unique ability to connect people.  

 “During these times where people seem so divided, “The Nutcracker” is the perfect thing to bring people together,” she said.  “Over the ballet’s 125 years, across the continents, young and old, large stages and small stages alike, this story unites people with the magic of Christmas.”

Find Duck River Dance on East Main Street, across from the Manchester Arts Center.

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