More than 10 students from Nanaimo Christian School will perform The Nutcracker at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo on November 22 and 23. This year three of those dancers’ dads and the NCS principal will join them on stage. None of the men are trained dancers. It’s a Kirkwood Academy tradition to recruit volunteer dads for a handful of roles in this classic holiday performance.

“When a bunch of students and their Kirkwood dance instructor come and ask you, it’s hard to say no,” says James Sijpheer, head principal of Nanaimo Christian School. “As a principal I often encourage students to take risks and step out of their comfort zone. Now this dutch white guy with no rhythm is wearing pantaloons and getting lessons from a Grade 5 student, Lilika Kovacs, during lunch hours.”

Sijpheer, along with NCS dads Tyler Kovacs, Josh Patience and Chris Gillepsie,  will dance in all three public performances November 22 and 23. They will be on stage for about 30 minutes during the entire party scene in Act 1 when Clara receives the nutcracker as a gift. Several of the youth dancers who attend NCS also appear in this scene.

Sijpheer and the NCS dads have been rehearsing with the cast and Kirkwood instructors on Sunday nights. Each of them is paired with a trained dancer on stage during their scene. 

“It has been such a pleasure working with the principal and dads from NCS,” says Carolé Maryn, artistic director and owner of Kirkwood Academy. “The children were very excited when they were first put into ‘families’ in the party scene, and the dads fit in to their parental roles easily and naturally and did not disappoint! I have watched how supportive they are in rehearsal, not just of their own child but of all the children dancing.The excitement for the performance is mounting!”

This year’s performance marks Kirkwood Academy’s 20th production of the timeless holiday classic showcasing the talent of Nanaimo’s youth. All three performances usually sell out. Get info and tickets here.

Photo credit: Alicia Dewar Photography