Five dancers from the Anderson-Hoxie Dance Project in Waverly will be among some 200 dancers in the Midwest Ballet Company production of “The Nutcracker”. They include (standing) Brylee Bockelman, Addison Mer-feld; (sitting) Lilly Michel, Brooke Oliver and Brenna Harris. Oliver is holding a poster advertising the dates the holiday classic will be performed. (Staff Photo by Peggy Brown)

LINCOLN – The Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company will present its 34th annual production of the holiday classic, “The Nutcracker” at Lincoln’s Lied Center for Performing Arts Dec. 7 and 8.

The production features almost 200 student dancers from southeastern Nebraska in a performance that also features a live orchestra and nationally-known guest artists.

Dancers this year include five young ladies from the Anderson-Hoxie Dance Project in Waverly.

This is the second year for sophomore Brooke Oliver to appear in the production. This year, she is a member of the flower corps, snow crops and is a company member.

The other dancers will perform on the stage for the first time.

Lilly Michel, an eighth grader, is a member of the Spanish background as is sixth grader Brenna Harris. Brylie Bockelman, a fourth grader at Waverly Intermediate School, dances the part of an angel while Addison Merfeld, a fourth grader at Meadowlane Elementary School, will dance the part of a big mouse.

They all admitted that when they tried out they were a bit nervous.

“We had to try out in front of judges that were brought in,” Oliver said, adding that it was a two day event.

Even though she knew what to expect and what to do, she was just as nervous as she was the first time she tried out.

“Then we got word by e-mail we had been selected. I was so excited I cried,” she said.

They all had stories on how they found out they had been selected.

“Mom woke me up,” Bockel-man said.

They are now rehearsing Saturdays and Sunday, which Michel said were long days. They have gone on different weekends but have yet to appear on the stage all of the same time.

“We work with several chore-ographers who make a lot of notes,” Oliver said. “Then the director Sheri-Shell True goes through the notes and when we get to her she knows what we need to work on.”

She admitted that Shell-True was a tough director.

“But she cares about us so it pays off,” she said.

Last weekend, they took time out of rehearsals to be fitted for costumes.

Oliver said that it was an experience that will stay with her, and others, for years.

“The friendships you make behind stage are great and everyone is happy,” she said. “Spending all that time together helps us while on stage.”

She said that the older dancers also enjoy working with the younger ones.

All five dancers said they knew the story of The Nutcracker with several of them saying they had attended past performances.

“The story has always been around and is part of the Christ-mas holiday,” Oliver said. “I’ve always wanted to be part of a performance, but never thought I would be doing it.”

Michel agreed on how dancers helped each other.

“I didn’t think I would be selected but I had the opportunity to try out. I’m now glad I did,” she said.

Now, the five dancers are promoting the show and have invited friends and family to attend.

“I have had several of my friend’s say there were coming,” Oliver said.

Michel, Harris, Merfeld and Bockelman said they all have family who would be attending a performance as well.

Performances will be held on Friday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 8 at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Adult tickets are $49, $36, and $29 while student tickets are $36, $29 and $19. They are being sold at the Lied Center or online at

A graduate of Raymond Central High School, Shell-True has directed the company for 34 years, The Nebraska Symphony Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Herbert E. Dregalla Jr., will provide Tchaikovsky’s classic score.

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