Metro-East Living

25 years later math teacher still performs in ‘The Nutcracker’

Dancers and musicians from Belleville School of Ballet and Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra rehearse “The Nutcracker,” which will be performed this weekend at the Scottish Rite Bodies Theatre.
Dancers and musicians from Belleville School of Ballet and Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra rehearse “The Nutcracker,” which will be performed this weekend at the Scottish Rite Bodies Theatre. dholtmann@bnd.com

Going to see “The Nutcracker” is an annual tradition for many Belleville residents, but it’s left a permanent impression on Taran Holdener.

The O’Fallon High School math teacher will be performing in the holiday ballet this weekend for the 25th year. She actually started 28 years ago but took a break in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

“It’s just fun going back and being part of the show,” said Taran, 34, of O’Fallon, who is playing Clara’s mom. “Miss Patti is like my second mom.”

Taran was referring to Patti Woods Harrington, owner of Belleville School of Ballet, who has been staging “The Nutcracker” for 33 years.

Dancers are accompanied by the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra, which has a new conductor, Robert Hart Baker. He came on board this summer.

“We’re kind of excited because he has actually conducted ballets before,” Patti said. “It will be the same score, of course, but I’m sure it will have a different flair.”

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 and 5 p.m. Sunday at Scottish Rite Bodies theater in west Belleville.

The lead of Clara will be played by the same three girls as last year: Ashleigh Farmer, of Shiloh, on Saturday night; Morgan Courtney, of Millstadt, on Sunday afternoon; and Kylie Rehg, of Belleville, on Sunday evening.

Also returning to the cast of 120 dancers and actors are professionals Anna Liceica and Vitali Krauchenka as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier.

“This is the 20th year that (Anna) will be coming here from New York,” Patti said. “She really has become a member of our family.”

Taran was in third grade when she played a soldier in her first performance of “The Nutcracker.” Since that time, she has been a mouse, party girl, party mom, angel, snowflake, the snow queen and Clara.

Tickets for “The Nutcracker” cost $20 at the door or $17 in advance at www.bellevillephilharmonic.org, Happy Hop Homebrew and Gourmet and Fletcher’s Kitchen & Tap.

Teri Maddox: 618-239-2473, @BNDwriter

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