"Design is design", says Blenheim jeweller Karen Dick, who is creating the Blenheim stage set for The Nutcracker.
It's the Marlborough Dance Centre's 2014 production and Dick was confident everything would be ready for the opening tomorrow.
On Monday, though, she was still busy in a corner of the Grove Rd dance centre, surrounded by paint tins, brushes, rags and tall striped pillars, while she carved giant snowflakes from sheets of white polystyrene.
It's a far cry from Dick's day job, using fine tools to shape and make jewellery from tiny precious stones and metal. Stage props, in contrast, could soar to a couple of metres.
It was initially outside her comfort zone, she said.
"But it's a lot of fun and a cheerful group of people to work with."
Working at the dance studio, she even got to watch the dancers perfect their steps in the final days of rehearsal. Ninety dancers will run on to the stage in The Nutcracker and Karen predicted the male lead, guest dancer Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, would steal audience attention.
The former Blenheim resident had just completed his first year of study at the Juilliard School in New York and showed the sort of skill levels young dancers can aspire to.
Dick, whose daughter Alayne started taking lessons at the centre as a five-year-old in 1998, says she saw Joshua progress from his days when he was a small boy learning to tap-dance.
She started creating dance theatre props while waiting for Alayne to finish her ballet lessons. She worked on her first stage set in 2007.
Dick is originally from Minneapolis, in the United States, where two professional dance companies are based. One regularly performed The Nutcracker but called on professionals to design its sets, she said.
In towns such as Blenheim, community support was needed amateur groups like the dance centre and the Blenheim Musical Theatre to put on big productions, she said.
The Nutcracker opens at 6.30pm in the Floor Pride Civic Theatre, Blenheim, tomorrow, and will be performed again at the same time on Saturday and closes with a 4pm show on Sunday.
- The Marlborough Express
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