Previews: THE NUTCRACKER SUITE at Ovations Dance Repertory

Forty-eight performers take to the stage on December 9.

By: Nov. 29, 2023
Previews: THE NUTCRACKER SUITE at Ovations Dance Repertory

Coming to Dunedin High School on Saturday, December 9, 2023, is the enchanting world of The Nutcracker Suite. Under the direction of Ovations Dance Repertory Theatre founder Orlando Pena, this production promises to be a magical experience for all ages, featuring a unique blend of classical ballet and innovative touches.

Pena shared his vision for this year's production.

"Having directed and choreographed The Nutcracker Suite for 20 years in New York with an orchestra, I wanted to introduce the magic to the studio in Tampa. We are only performing act 2 this year, a 50-minute performance to introduce the kids and families to a new tradition for the holidays."

The ballet features Harper O'Connor, Naha Oliveros, Atlas Ilgaz, Ozgu Ilgaz, Michael de'Venau, Zoelle Barnes, Amelia Elliman, Taylor Koren, Maddie McCartney, Evelyn Noskiv, Arianna Prieto, Olivia Schultz, Lucy Simon, Ella Tobin, Elietta Alvarez, Angelina Companion, Ana Paola Crespo, Annabella Crespo, Madison Gannon, Anita Plohotnichenko, Anasten Rule, Katalina Santana, Shannon Feather, Harper Florin, Renee Martin, Alisa Revunov, Sarah Roseski, Amelia Sanchez, Delaney Barfield, Abi Barnhill, Allison Bradberry, Grace Crithfield, Anna Gomez, Samantha Hardy, Mia Martinez, Gabby Meo, Tatianna Sanchez, Ava Stanziano, Mia Tanacs, Harper Tichenor, Isabella Fitzgerald, Daria Andrievska, Rosa Alonso, and Madi Jones.

While the performance remains a classical ballet, Pena brings a captivating element to the Tampa community. He said, "This is a classical ballet. I am introducing Indian Spice in Tampa. I performed it many years in New York to add spice and culture to the community, recognized in The New York Times years ago for our originality."

Pena shared a heartwarming detail about two of his dancers from New York, Shannon Feather, and Isabella Fitzgerald, who studied with him from age three and are now freshmen in college. They are flying down to be part of his show, showcasing their talents in key roles.

Joining the production is Mike de'Venau, also from New York, and Daria Andrievska, a Ukrainian refugee who arrived in Dunedin in February. Andrievska, a gorgeous ballroom dancer, takes on the role of Arabian in Pena's Nutcracker Suite, demonstrating the inclusivity and richness of talent in this year's production.

The joy of producing the ballet is evident in Pena's words as he reflected, "Producing the ballet… when they connect with the beauty of themselves, movement, and progress. It's a beautiful thing to watch."

Audiences can expect a visually stunning and joyous experience. In terms of the show's message, Pena kept it simple and profound: "Back to basics - turn off your phone and enjoy a classic ballet."

As the audience leaves the venue, Pena hopes they are discussing a feeling of having a wonderful experience.

Pena's passion for dance and life extends to his approach to working with young performers. When asked about ensuring the kids have fun and excel in the show, he notes, "If I'm sharing my passion for life, dance, and the music, they will feel it, and I hope it's contagious."

A Nutcracker Suite is being performed at Dunedin High School, 1651 Pinehurst Rd, on Saturday, December 9, with 1- and 6 pm performances. Learn more and get tickets at