Berthoud Dance Company to perform “The Nutcracker” at Rialto Theater Center

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

Since she was five, Brooke Nelsen of Berthoud wanted to be in “The Nutcracker,” and now, after four years of ballet, she landed her dream role.

Brooke, 11, will play Clara in Berthoud Dance Company’s performance of “The Nutcracker” Nov. 24-25 at the Rialto Theater Center in Loveland.

“I watched movies about the Nutcracker, and I thought it would be so cool to have some part in it,” said Brooke, who mostly dances ballet. “I like I get to do a bunch of lifts and do more dance stuff. …  I like I get to be in lot of scenes.”

The Berthoud Dance Company will follow the traditional storyline in the two-act ballet with a couple of twists and use the score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, a Russian composer from the Romantic period.

“There’s definitely going to be some twists to it,” said David Mineo, owner and artistic director of Berthoud Dance Company, 345 Massachusetts Ave., a dance school and performance company founded in 2004. “It’s definitely a story. From there we want to make it our own story. It will be very understandable, very enjoyable, a truly enchanted Christmas story.”

Instead of one, there will be two sugar plum fairies, played by Maria Quire, 15, of Berthoud and Karissa Fidler, 14, of Loveland, who will be on point and will emcee the performance. Clara also will dance a pas de trios with the two fairies.

Another change will be before the curtain opens with the two sugar plum fairies putting on their pointe shoes and tutus.

“We’re going to have the girls out in front of the curtain getting ready for the show, because they make all the magic happen,” Mineo said. “I’ve always been fascinated by ballerinas putting on their pointe shoes, the whole process. People don’t realize the difficulty of dancing on pointe. It’s fascinating to me. It’s absolutely beautiful.”

In the first act, which mainly consists of the party scene in the living room, there will be two baker girls making the gingerbread men, instead of gingerbread men coming out from under Mother Ginger’s oversized hoop skirt.

The cast will consist of about 60 to 70 performers, ranging in age from 3 to 65, with a guest appearance in the second act from Spoke N Motion Dance in Denver.

Forty to 45 of the performers are from Berthoud schools, including Ivy Stockwell and Berthoud Elementary schools and Turner Middle School. The leads, Brooke and Nolan Simon, 13, who is playing the Nutcracker, are from Turner Middle School. Maximilian Diaz, 8, of Berthoud will be in the role of Clara’s brother, Fritz, and also is playing a soldier. There are students from Loveland, Mead and Johnstown as well.

“I love being here and hanging out with everyone and learning the routines. It’s fun,” said Nolan, who has been dancing for four months and does mostly ballet. “It strengthens the muscles a lot, and it’s very graceful. The jumps are fun and things like that.”

David likes how well Nolan and Brooke work together.

“They will be the talk of Northern Colorado after this show is over,” Mineo said. “They just have a passion for it. They are so excited. They have become good friends, and it’s really enjoyable to see them work together.”

Mineo will be performing as Drosselmeyer, the godfather who presents Clara with the Nutcracker for Christmas and then proceeds to make all the magic happen.

The Berthoud Dance Company, which has four instructors, presents two dance performances a year, usually in February and June at the Rialto, plus performs at senior centers and other locations throughout the year.

“This year the Rialto Theater encouraged me to do ‘The Nutcracker’ and had Thanksgiving weekend available,” Mineo said, adding the dance company hasn’t performed “The Nutcracker” for 12 years. “We won’t do a February show. This will be our winter show.”

The audience will enjoy the entire show, Mineo said.

“It’s very fulfilling from beginning to end,” Mineo said. “It’s going to be unique. It’s going to be very entertaining. It’s going to be a grand show.”

The performances will be 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 24 and 2 p.m. Nov. 25. Tickets are $15-17 and can be purchased in advance at

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