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Kent boy to perform in PNB's Nutracker

Kent fifth-grader William Dougherty prepares to receive a dancer during rehearsals for Pacific Northwest Ballet
Kent fifth-grader William Dougherty prepares to receive a dancer during rehearsals for Pacific Northwest Ballet's upcoming Nutcracker production. Dougherty is one of 222 students in this year's performance schedule.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/PNB

This week was full of excitement for William Dougherty. Not only did he celebrate his 11th birthday on Halloween, but for a fourth year he rehearsed dance steps for Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker production.

The Kent boy is one of 222 students who will participate in PNB's Founding Artistic Director Kent Stowell and world-famous illustrator Maurice Sendak's production.

William, a fifth-grader at Glenridge Elementary School, has been dancing since he was about 7, involved in creative movement.

"I think it's really fun," he said. "You get to see a lot of things backstage and upstairs. It's a lot of fun."

He will play a toy theater boy in this year's performance. Although he'll only be on stage for about five minutes, his father Alan calls his steps challenging.

"I'm really excited for his dancing ability," said Alan Dougherty.

Alan has watched his son progress up to level three dancing, with more challenging moves with each performance.

Twice his son has performed one of the party boy roles and once as the little boy who runs around and gets conked on the head by a little girl.

This week William and 15 other theater boys and 16 girls rehearsed in the largest PNB dance studio, learning how to use props for their scene.

His favorite thing to do is put on the stage make-up that brings out his eyes.

"It's kind of hard because you have to sacrifice going to birthday parties for friends and that sort of thing," William said.

He has been excited after each rehearsal. Practice began the week of Oct. 22 for students.

"He's really excited about it. He's been bouncing around the steps at home and doing his steps on the sidewalk regardless of who might be around," said his father.

As a student in PNB's Ballet School, William had to audition for his part in the Nutcracker. The Student Division begins at age 8 with auditions and consists of Levels I to VII. Classes are graded by age, physical strength, development and are promoted by individual progress.

To audition for the Nutcracker, candidates must be in PNB's school. This year several hundred from the school auditioned for parts in the performances, which run Dec. 7 through Dec. 29.

The annual production is a local favorite and attracts many patrons.

"What amazes me is that he can perform in front of thousands of people," said Alan Dougherty.

William told his dad recently that the only time he got butterflies was when he performed in the company's version of Cinderella.

"On the first show (of the Nutcracker) I'm always quite nervous because of all the counting," William said. "The rest of the shows are pretty much fine. No butterflies or anything."

For more information on PNB's Nutcracker production visit, www.pnb.org.

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