Kerrilynn Robinson of Richland was 11 years old when she first performed in the Mid-Columbia Ballet's Nutcracker Suite.
That was in 1984. Today, Robinson and her husband, John, are looking forward to watching their 12-year-old twin boys, Tyson and Tanner, and 8-year-old daughter, Libbie, dance in this year's Nutcracker production.
"While growing up, some of my fondest memories took place while dancing and performing," Kerrilynn Robinson said. "I enjoyed the hard work and practices, but especially loved the thrill of being on stage. I feel so privileged to be able to share that love with my family."
This beloved ballet will be performed at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 and 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 12 with another 2 p.m. matinee Dec. 13 in the auditorium at Richland High School.
And there are a few more second generation dancers featured in this year's production.Kate Roddy of Richland has missed only one Nutcracker performance since she was 3 years old.
"I was 7 the first time I was in the Nutcracker in 1984," she said. "I was in it for eight more years and (danced) as a bunny, a doll, a page, a courtier, a soldier, a cook, Chinese and Russian (during those years.)"
Roddy's 8-year-old daughter Cecilia will be performing in her second Nutcracker this year.
"She'll be an ice fairy in the snow scene. She was a mouse last year," the proud momma said. "My favorite part of the show is the land of the sweets especially Russian, Chinese, and Bon Bons. I love the music and the dancing. It's a totally different production than when I first started. I go see the Nutcracker every year, and every year there's something a little different about the show."
Karena VanDyke is another former Nutcracker dancer who will watch her daughter perform in the production this year.
"I first performed in the Nutcracker at age 8," she said. "Every Christmas season I get so excited for the ballet. When I was a small child I loved watching all the magic on stage. I would come home and dance around my living room with a Nutcracker doll and couldn't wait until I was old enough to be in the show."
VanDyke danced in eight performances of the Nutcracker as a child. Now she is watching the cycle start all over again with her own children.
"For the past couple of years I have taken my children to see Nutcracker and this year my daughter is able to be in her first show," she said. "There are so many good memories for me involving this production that are all coming back as I take my daughter to rehearsals and costume fittings. I can't wait for her first performance and all the joy that she and I will both get to experience this holiday season."
Meaghan Grace Hinkis is making her first guest appearance with the Mid-Columbia Ballet, dancing as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Hinkis danced as Clara in Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular for two seasons and most recently dance in the Festival Castel de Peralada and Veranos de la Villa in Spain. She also is a past winner in the Helsinki International Ballet Competition.
Irlan Silva returns for another guest performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy's Cavalier. He began his dancing studies at the Dance Academy Rio in his native Rio de Janeiro at age 11 and in 2005 he took first place at the Youth America Grand Prix finals in New York City. Then in 2008 he won the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland. He is currently a dancer with the American Ballet Theatre II, based in New York.
"Nutcracker has always been about family," said Joel Rogo, who co-directs the Mid-Columbia Ballet with his wife, Debra. "That's why there are so people who have performed in the Nutcracker as children and now their children are dancing in the ballet."
But even more importantly, Rogo added, "Nutcracker is as much a part of the season as sleigh bells and snowmen. And Tchaikovsky's beautiful score is as recognizable as any Christmas carol."
◗ Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org