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INTERVIEW: Studio 3's Founder Diane Shumway On "Mixed Nuts," A Holiday Classic With An "Alice In Wonderland" Twist

T.J. Clemente

This year's Mixed Nuts will be Alice in Wonderland themed. (Photo: Tom Kochie)

Diane Shumway took a few minutes of rehearsal time to talk about Studio 3's Mixed Nuts, "a classic holiday Nutcracker with a Twist." The show is a myriad of dancing disciplines - with over 25 dancers ages 6 through 18 featured. It is being produced at the Bay Street Theater from Friday, December 13 through Sunday, December 15, 2019.

Shumway has been teaching dance for 25 years. She founded Studio 3 in Bridgehampton in 2005. Shumway began her formal training with Genevieve Manning in New York and has studied with Charles Kelley, Raymond Lukens, Mark Santoro, Steve Sirico, Davis Scala and Louis Kavouris. She holds advanced teaching certifications with Dance Educators of America in Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Modern dance and is a certified Leap 'N Learn instructor. She has created and produced over a decade of Studio 3 dance productions, including Dance Galaxy, Days of Peace and Dance, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Snow White, The Art of Dance, The Adventures of Alice, Turning Pages, The Notes She Wrote, Motion Pictures, Love and nine seasons of Mixed Nuts.

As Shumway explained it, "I start working on my vision of next year's show pretty much a year in advance. So, last year at this time, I already knew we were going to be combining The Nutcracker with Alice in Wonderland for this year's show."

For the 2019 iteration, the story of this dance production goes like this, "It's late afternoon and twilight is descending on a chilly Christmas Eve. Alice and her sister Abigail are taking a brisk walk in the woods when a white rabbit dashes down the trail, dropping a key as he hastens by. The sisters pick it up and follow him through a clearing to the home of The Mad Hatter, who is hosting an afternoon tea party. The sisters knock on the door and are greeted by guests, who confuse them for housekeepers arriving late for work. After the confusion clears, The Mad Hatter makes it up to them by presenting special gifts. Twilight becomes darkness and madness becomes magic. As the story unfolds, snow begins to fall. Alice slips down a rabbit hole through the hall of doors into Wonderland." She noted that the actual preparation for the show starts when the school year starts in September.

When I asked Shumway how do the two stories come together, she said, "I am surprised how well the two stories line up and come together so amazing well. Alice in Wonderland is very similar to The Nutcracker with the evil Red Queen... you think the story of Alice in Wonderland is nothing like The Nutcracker, but for some reason it lines up really well and works. Our dancers are so special, they are all great students and hard workers, they inspire me during every rehearsal." She said, "In the show, besides ballet, there will be tap, and hip-hop, and contemporary, and jazz as well! We weave back and forth in the traditional [Nutcracker] story. All of the teachers [Thomas Gallo, Jenna Miller, Meredith Shumway] are involved in the choreography. It's roughly about an hour and half long, with an intermission."

Shumway admitted her dancing passion started very early in her life, noting, "I am a life-long dancer, probably starting when I was 5." She is a Long Island girl - growing up in Glen Clove, New York. Her first teacher was a former Radio City Rockette who lived nearby. She insisted I mention that besides her being the Artistic Director/Choreographer, the other Choreographers are Thomas Gallo, Jenna Miller, and Meredith Shumway. The Technical Director is Meredith Shumway with Lighting Design by the Bay Street Theater. Graphic Design is the handiwork of Jen Van Arsdale Design, while Thomas Kochie photographs the productions and Jason Nower serves as videographer.

The dancers of this year's Studio 3's production of Mixed Nuts are the following: Mya Davis, Abigail Corish, Eli Mccleland, Kelly Seitz Evelyn Berkoski, Mia Borland, Scarlett Borland, Maggie Glanz, Liya Hourani, Campbelle Kinney, Zoe Leathers, Caitlin Ortiz Sullivan, Safia Rahmouni Vidal, Addison Stevens, Maggie Glanz, Thomas Gallo, Brooke Bierfriend, Avery McCleland, Atlas Geirsson, Jackie Gluck, Elizabeth Gluck, Bianca Hommert, Amanda Koszalka, Maya Leathers, Hudson Nugent, Nettie Rattray, Kelly Seitz, Nicky Seitz, Vivian Denny, Gigi Jordan, Dylan Kelly, Isabella Ortiz, Ambar Reyes, and Emma Reyes.

Mixed Nuts can be seen on Friday, December 13 at 7 p.m., Saturday, December 14 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 15 at 1 p.m. Don't miss it!

Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit dancestudio3.com.

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