'Nutcracker' showcases talents of Aiken dancers



Although Aiken has only had its own Nutcracker ballet performance for five years, Diane Miller couldn’t imagine Christmas in Aiken without it.

“I don’t think my Christmas or my family’s would be the same,” said Miller, Aiken Civic Ballet artistic director. The ballet will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, at the University of South Carolina Aiken Etherredge Center.

While the majority of the performers are from the Aiken Civic Ballet, other dancers from Aiken participate. Miller wanted it to be Aiken’s Nutcracker not just a performance by a single dance company.

There is an audition for dancers in the fall, and casting is facilitated by someone not affiliated with Aiken’s dance programs, said Miller. Lead roles have been danced by performers from Burns Dance Studio and Carolina Dance Studio in previous years.

Briana Eberl, an 18-year-old home school student, has been dancing since she was 3. She had performed in the Nutcracker in New Mexico and had seen it performed in Augusta.

“It’s been really neat to do the Nutcracker,” said Eberl, who is the lead candy cane and dances in Waltz of the Flowers and Waltz of the Snowflakes. “I’ve seen it grow.”

This Nutcracker marks Eberl’s last because she will be graduating from high school. She said she has enjoyed starting this holiday tradition.

“I think it’s a big draw,” she said. “A lot of people come to see it. Before, you had to go to Augusta or Columbia to see it.”

For the dancers, the show is magical.

“I love seeing all the little kids and the look in their eyes when they see us dance,” said Jessica Williamson, who is dancing the role of the Dewdrop. “This is great to do during the Christmas season. A lot of families go to it.”

Tickets for The Nutcracker are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. For ticket information, call the Etherredge Center box office at (803) 641-3305.