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Trapeze artists demonstrate their strength and balance during the first show of the Nutcracker Cirque on Kadena Air Base Thursday evening.
Trapeze artists demonstrate their strength and balance during the first show of the Nutcracker Cirque on Kadena Air Base Thursday evening. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)
Trapeze artists demonstrate their strength and balance during the first show of the Nutcracker Cirque on Kadena Air Base Thursday evening.
Trapeze artists demonstrate their strength and balance during the first show of the Nutcracker Cirque on Kadena Air Base Thursday evening. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)
A cast member of the Nutcracker Cirque shows his balancing skills during the show's first performance on Kadena Air Base Thursday evening.
A cast member of the Nutcracker Cirque shows his balancing skills during the show's first performance on Kadena Air Base Thursday evening. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)
Dancers entertain the Kadena audience during the Nutcracker Cirque.
Dancers entertain the Kadena audience during the Nutcracker Cirque. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Think of it as a high-flying warm-up act.

While holiday celebrations here weren’t scheduled to kick off officially until Friday, with the annual Christmas parade and Tinsel Town opening, a classical tale with a twist got things started Thursday evening.

The Nutcracker Cirque held two performances Thursday in a large tent in the Schilling Community Center parking lot — where Tinsel Town will be set up throughout the weekend. The show uses hand balancers, trapeze artists, jugglers, dancers and aerialists to give a New Age kick to the classic Christmas tale.

As in the traditional story, Clara receives a nutcracker doll from her uncle for Christmas and has an imaginative dream after falling asleep with it. After Clara performs an acrobatic aerial dance high above the stage using only two pieces of long cloth, the toy soldiers and mice make their appearances, complete with their own modern look. Clara’s doll then is turned into the Nutcracker Prince.

Clara and her prince travel through the Land of Snow, where they are entertained by dancers, a balance act, trapeze artists, jugglers, and another aerialist.

At the end of the show, Clara and her Nutcracker Prince perform a belief-defying balancing act using only interlocked limbs to defy gravity.

The same group that performed Luminaire during last year’s Tinsel Town is putting on the show. This year’s event has some of the same acts but with the Nutcracker story line. Kristie Connolly, who attended both shows, said she could see the similarities but the group “changed it up and added a good story.”

Connolly said she really enjoyed this year’s performance, as she did last year’s, and liked the different acts. But daughter Elizabeth, 3, skipped the high-flying acrobatics when naming her favorite part of the show. “I liked it when the ladies danced,” she said.

The free event is sponsored in part by Club Med, Japan Telecom, NTT Communications and Toys “R” Us.

The Nutcracker Cirque can be seen twice daily through Monday in the tent outside the Schilling Community Center. Remaining performances are to be at 2 p.m. and 7:40 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Monday. Call the Schilling Community Center at 634-1387 for more information.

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