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The Steadfast Tin Soldier: A holiday ballet for kids, by kids

Published on: November 14, 2009

Updated November 2009

View information about this year's event, Dec. 12 and 13, 2009!

In addition to holiday shopping, wrapping, baking, cooking and card-prepping, there’s often the extra task each year of planning a memorable family outing. Our family enjoys getting dressed up and going to see a holiday performance each December, but sometimes it’s difficult to find a quality event we can all enjoy, or one that isn’t too expensive.

That’s why we were delighted to discover The Steadfast Tin Soldier, a DanceFremont! production, several years ago. Although my daughter had taken classes at this studio, we had never been to see its holiday production. After viewing the performance for the first time, my daughter turned to me and said, “I want to be in that show someday.” (And she did it: She was a cast member in 2007, as she is again this year.)

The Paper Ballerina, Steadfast Tin SoldierBased on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the ballet chronicles the adventures of a one-legged tin soldier in love with a paper ballerina. Boys and girls alike will enjoy watching the tin soldier journey across the water, encounter a giant fish and meet up with a water rat. Because this ballet closely follows Andersen’s original story, children can experience the joy of seeing a classic piece of literature brought to life.

The production boasts a number of unique features that appeal to a young audience. Children may recognize a school friend or a neighborhood teen in the cast of 70 dancers — not surprising, since almost the entire cast consists of Seattle-area kids who range in age from 7 to 18. The live music (from an original music score written by Seattle’s own Kathleen Mills) is engaging — and again, most of the musicians are local students. A portion of the show also features Signing Exact English (SEE), making the event accessible to hearing-impaired children and adults.

Action-packed scenes, eye-catching costumes, vibrantly colored sets — and special features such as glow-in-the-dark fish puppets and a flying “cuckoo bird” — will grab and hold the attention of even young children. The choreography, created by DanceFremont! codirector Vivian Little, is magical. Every seat in the midsize theater allows children to view the dancers and the stage at close range. During the intermission, an assortment of delicious (and reasonably priced) homemade pastries and desserts are available for purchase. And when the show is over, children can head to the lobby where some of the dancers will sign autographs.

Perhaps one of the best things about a family outing to The Steadfast Tin Soldier, is that it won’t break the budget. For most families, December is a month in which expenses are high and bank accounts run at an all-time low, but a family of four can purchase tickets to the show for about $55 — total. (Even better: Parking is free.)

It’s a festive and affordable family holiday activity for all ages, and who knows — your child might even turn to you and ask, “Can I be in that show someday?”

Jennifer Perrow is a freelance writer specializing in parenting and educational issues, and the mother of an 8-year-old ballerina and an 11-year-old baseball player.

This article originally appeared in the December, 2008, issue of ParentMap.

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