Christ Episcopal Church’s ‘The Nutcracker’ places modern spin on a Christmas classic, brings joy to children in need


From pirouettes to kick lines, Christ Episcopal Church’s annual performance of “The Nutcracker” Saturday, Dec. 9 offered an assortment of dance moves and styles that Nutcracker enthusiasts of all ages could enjoy, giving a modern twist to the classic ballet.

Directed by Felicia Rhoden, the 22nd annual Christ Episcopal Church “Nutcracker” incorporated elements of ballet, jazz, tap and even some gymnastics. Held at the University of North Florida Lazzara Performance Hall, the production offered every performer the opportunity to shine. Standout performances of the night included those of Jordan Polster (Sugar Plum Fairy); Jamie Ulrich (Guardian Angel) and Ellie McCary (Clara).

Dating back to the late 19th century, the Nutcracker Ballet tells the story of a young German girl named Clara Stahlbaum who receives a magical nutcracker as a present one Christmas Eve. She falls asleep and awakens at midnight to find herself surrounded by giant mice. As Clara struggles to escape, the nutcracker comes to her rescue and defeats the leader of the mice, the Mouse King, in battle. The nutcracker then transforms into a handsome prince, and he and Clara embark on a fantastical journey together.

While “The Nutcracker” has become a fixture of the holiday season, many have struggled to relate the story back to the biblical roots of the Christian holiday. Prior to the performance, Doug McCary – father of this year’s Clara – offered his own interpretation.

“It’s the battle of the nutcracker against the evil Mouse King, and there’s been a battle between good and evil for a long time,” he said. “Two thousand years ago, a real ‘Prince of Peace’ came, and he brought an end to that battle. And that is why we celebrate Christmas—because of Jesus. He is the ‘Prince of Peace,’ and he brings joy. There’s all kinds of broken people in the world, and we all need peace. We all need joy.”

The Christ Episcopal Church production of "The Nutcracker” annually helps to provide that joy to the less fortunate, as the proceeds of the event benefit nonprofit organizations dedicated to assisting children in need.

“These kids are dancing for the Amistad Mission in Bolivia, as well as Dreams Come True and Pediatric Hospice, so these kids know how to live right and shine the light of Christ out in the world,” Rev. Jessica Babcock said.

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