‘The Nutcracker’: Family members taking part in Christmas production

Tabitha Buffalo, right, portraying the Sugar Plum Fairy, dances with Pierce Kuhn, portraying the Sugar Plum Cavalier, during rehearsal Sunday afternoon at the Newton Performing Arts Center. Wendy Nugent/HC Now

By Wendy Nugent, Harvey County Now

NEWTON—Hesston resident Pierce Kuhn thought it was going to be weird having his parents, Andrew and Audrey Kuhn, in the upcoming Newton Dance Connections’ production of “The Nutcracker,” but it’s not.

“They’re just like another dancer,” said the 17-year-old, who portrays the Sugar Plum Cavalier and Drosselmeyer.

The Cavalier does several dance numbers with the Sugar Plum Fairy, portrayed by Tabitha Buffalo. Also in the production is Kuhn’s little sister, 5-year-old Sophia.

“She’s a cookie,” Kuhn said. “She’s in one of the variations of Cookies.”

He enjoys dance, as he’s been doing it at the Newton Performing Arts Center since he was 7.

“I like to perform for people and like even though we have set choreography, in the open spaces of choreography, I like playing with it,” he said.

Kuhn isn’t the only person with a family member in the production. Two others include sisters and Newton residents Olivia and Tabitha Buffalo, one of whom already was mentioned—the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Olivia, 13, is one of the dancers in the marzipan, candy cane and snow variations in the show.

She’s danced since she was 4, also at the Newton Performing Arts Center.

“I like that when I dance, it’s always a place I can enjoy being there and have fun,” she said, following rehearsal on Sunday afternoon in Newton.

Tabitha’s been dancing since the age of 7 or 8, she said, also at the arts center.

“I like the feeling of performing after you’ve worked so hard after getting where you want to be with your routine and just the feeling of being with everyone being backstage with everyone,” she said.

Tabitha said it helps to have a dress rehearsal at a place they’re not familiar with, such as the case of Valley Center Middle School, where they’re doing their performances of “The Nutcracker” this year. They’re doing that dress rehearsal the weekend after Thanksgiving.

The two sisters are used to performing together.

“I think it’s nice,” Tabitha said. “I like having my sister dance with me. She knows me a lot better than other people.”

Even though they’re performing ballet in “The Nutcracker,” Olivia enjoys jazz or modern dance more. Her sister has her favorites, too.

“I like ballet and hip hop,” she said.

Kuhn enjoys hip-hop and modern dance.

The trio doesn’t only like to dance themselves; they also like to see others dance.

“I watch ‘Dance Moms’ a lot,” Tabitha said, adding “World of Dance” is awesome.

Olivia enjoys the same shows as her sister and Kuhn said he’s watched “World of Dance” and Instagram dance posts, as do the Buffalos.

Tabitha said one part of her dancing for “The Nutcracker” is more difficult than others.

“The most difficult for me would be the last variation in Sugar Plum,” she said. “It’s the last push before the end.”


“The Nutcracker” will be performed at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 3, as well as 2 and 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Valley Center Middle School, 800 N. Meridian Drive in Valley Center. For tickets, visit newtonnutcracker.com. Tickets are $10 for children ages 3 through 12 and $15 for adults.

“Some of our dancers are from Newton Performing Arts Center and some are from Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts, but the production is put on by Newton Dance Connections, which is a collaborative company we created to bring area studios together,” said Haylie Berning, dance director at BCAPA. “Our auditions are open to all area studios, but NPAC and BCAPA are where all of this year’s performers dance. We also use studio space at both locations for rehearsals throughout the year, but [Sunday] we had everyone at NPAC, so we could rehearse together.”

The production this year includes just fewer than 100 choreographers and performers from Newton and the surrounding area, Berning said.


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