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January 15, 2019

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Q+A: Dancers Alissa Dale and Steven Goforth of NBT talk ‘The Nutcracker’

NBT Presents ‘The Nutcracker’

Tom Donoghue /

Benjamin Tucker and Alissa Dale rehearse for Nevada Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, at the Smith Center.

NBT Presents ‘The Nutcracker’

Rehearsal for Nevada Ballet Theatre's Launch slideshow »
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Rehearsal for Nevada Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, at the Smith Center. Steven Goforth, as Drosselmeyer, is at center.

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Rehearsal for Nevada Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, at the Smith Center.

Click to enlarge photo

Rehearsal for Nevada Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, at the Smith Center.

Click to enlarge photo

Rehearsal for Nevada Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, at the Smith Center.

Click to enlarge photo

Rehearsal for Nevada Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, at the Smith Center.

Nevada Ballet Theatre’s annual “The Nutcracker” is an exquisite holiday gem at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. The production — from the cast, choreography and costumes to the music, staging, sets and story — is gorgeous and lush — a perfect Christmas concoction.

Nevada Ballet Theatre lead dancers and “The Nutcracker” veterans Alissa Dale and Steven Goforth chatted over the phone Friday afternoon ahead of their first weekend of performances. “The Nutcracker’s” final five performances this season are Friday through Sunday.

What is your role in “The Nutcracker” this year?

Alissa Dale: I have a few different roles this year, including the Snow Fairy and Winter Fairy. I’m playing Clara for the first time this year, so six roles in this run — no, seven! I love portraying the different roles. It’s great to move around and play the different parts to get various perspectives and points-of-view.

Steven Goforth: I have three roles. I’m performing Drosselmeyer the first weekend, and next weekend the lead party father, as well as the Snow Prince. “The Nutcracker” has a wide variety of roles to perform, so there’s a lot of opportunity to push yourself in different ways and explore a lot of roles.

How long you have performed in “The Nutcracker” and also with Nevada Ballet Theatre?

A.D.: My first role was in “The Nutcracker” as a young girl in Flagstaff, Ariz. It was for Nevada Dance Theater. They needed little kids, and I was cast as a party boy. This is my third “Nutcracker” with Nevada Ballet Theatre, and I’ve been here 11 seasons.

S.G.: This is my fourth season with Nevada Ballet Theater and my 15th year in ballet. I started in Vancouver, Wash., at a studio where I grew up. I’ve worked in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Helena, Mont., before here.

How did you get your start in ballet?

A.D.: In Flagstaff. It was actually a medical issue. I grew really fast as a little girl, so it was recommended that I start ballet for my posture. I started late. Most girls begin ballet when they are 2 or 3 or 4. I was 9 and fell in love with it right away.

S.G.: In elementary school once a week, there was an arts block for digital arts, creative movement and other arts. After the first week, I told my mom that I really wanted to dance.

What is one of your most memorable or favorite roles?

A.D.: My most memorable role was “Giselle.” It was an incredible opportunity as far as classical ballet. I love the contemporary and new works, too. Also Odette in “Swan Lake.” It was really incredible working with Cynthia Gregory.

S.G.: That’s a good question! One would be the Snow Prince with Nevada Ballet Theater since we opened this production in 2012. I can push myself as a partner and with my own technique and dancing. Coming offstage after the first performance as the Snow Prince the first time with this professional company and a production of this magnitude was really incredible.

How do you stay in shape for work?

A.D.: Working 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days a week covers the in-shape part! I also do cross training, Pilates, yoga and my own stretching on the side.

S.G.: I go to the gym probably five days a week. I have a weight-training regimen, a core work routine and cardio.

What advice would you give someone starting out in ballet?

A.D.: Dedication and patience are very valuable. Being passionate and showing up for classes and rehearsals. Be dedicated to working hard all the time. Be patient because, while we strive for perfection, nobody is perfect. And loving oneself through the process because it is hard.

S.G.: The most important thing in starting out is to work hard at it. It’s a creative outlet that can lead to a rewarding career. Ballet teaches you a lot of life skills that are really important and not found in other extra-curricular activities that set you up to be successful in life. To be self-motivated and manage your time well with school and family. Dancing allows you to build skills for adulthood.

What is the most challenging part of ballet for you?

A.D.: As I get older, injuries and managing pain are a challenge. But a lot has gotten easier, too. I’ve gotten to know my body a lot better over the years, and knowing my limits is good in terms of how far I can push myself.

S.G.: The pursuit of perfection. When you’re in the studio or onstage, you strive to dance the best you’ve ever danced, then the next day you need to come in and better yourself. Pursuing perfection can seem unattainable, but it’s our goal. It’s one of the exciting things about ballet — to push for perfection.

What are your interests outside ballet — what do you do for fun?

A.D.: I have another job in the summertime. I row a boat in Grand Canyon tours on the Colorado River. I love the outdoors. Having outside interests help with artistry.

S.G.: I enjoying watching the big UFC fights. Unfortunately, the UFC 194 fights are all happening when I’m onstage this weekend, but I can follow along on social media. I like to explore Las Vegas and, being from the Northwest, find the holes in the wall, small businesses and breweries. When I’m not at rehearsals or the gym, I like to relax.

What are you looking forward to most with “The Nutcracker” this year?

A.D.: The audience reaction is the best. We’ve rehearsed all year long, or at least a lot, so the audience reaction is wonderful. And performing Clara for the first time is a dream. I’m really excited!

S.G.: I’m excited for all three of my roles equally. Drosselmeyer is a big character unlike other characters I’ve played. It’s been a lot of fun to work on the Snow Prince. It’s amazing, the music is brilliant, some of the best in the ballet, and I’m excited to revisit the role for the fourth year. I’m excited for everything!

Nevada Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” continues at Reynolds Hall in the Smith Center through Sunday.

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