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Nutcracker dog

Dancers for the Napa Valley Ballet's Dec. 9 performance of "The Nutcracker" include Sofia Moreci, Miriam Norwitz, Ela Zurowski, Danielle Green, Christina Corrales, Ryan Camou , Marcella Contessi-Smith, Halie Nelson , Ariana Mitchell, Talia Milos, Leigh Horvath, Amelia Ott, Noelle Brennan, Andrea Beach and Sharon Hess.

With the help of Santa and Mrs. Claus, rescue dogs from Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch will be escorting guests to their seats at the Napa Valley Ballet’s holiday performance of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”

The show is at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Napa Valley Unified School District Auditorium at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Jefferson Street in Napa.

“When children are better educated around issues concerning animals our whole community benefits,” said Monica Stevens, who co-founded Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch with her husband, David, in 2014. The dogs at the ballet will be ones that the couple rescued, she said, adding that she and her husband will be helping out as Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

“Children and animals naturally go together and we couldn’t be happier to collaborate with the Napa Valley Ballet,” she said.

Marcella Contessi-Smith, artistic director of Contessi Ballet and founder of the North Bay Performing Arts Center, is directing the Napa Valley Ballet performance, as she makes her first steps into retirement at age of 90. Mrs. Smith has been dancing for over 70 years.

“Napa Valley Ballet is proud to work with other nonprofits in the region,” said Christopher Ott, chairman of Napa Valley Ballet. “We take very seriously the development of whole human beings in our program. Working with other organizations such as Contessi and Jameson models clearly the connectivity of the world and underscores the fact that dance training is life training.”

Principal dancer Ryan Camou will be performing as the Nutcracker prince who escorts Clara on a magical Christmas journey. Camou received his dance training from Hawaii State Ballet and San Francisco Ballet School, before becoming an apprentice with Houston Ballet where he was featured in Trey McIntyre’s “Touched.”

Halie Nelson will star as Clara. Nelson, 22, has been dancing at Contessi Ballet since she was 2 years old. She has performed many principal roles in large productions including “Cinderella,” “The Magic Flute,” “Swan Lake” and “The Nutcracker.”

Tickets are $18 for children 10 and younger, $23 for students and seniors, and $28 for adults. For tickets and more information, visit

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