OAKLAND -- Ever been so beguiled by that classic holiday favorite, "The Nutcracker," that you wish you could step onstage and be a part of it? Well, dust off your dance shoes, for here's your chance.

The East Bay Dance Center in the Glenview neighborhood is hosting its first "Do-It-Yourself Nutcracker" at 3 p.m. Dec. 9 and Dec. 16.

"I got the idea for a dance-along from a singalong 'Messiah' that I went to last year," said Bonnie Sita, who opened the dance school in 1990 and moved to the historic Glenview Women's Club building in 2004. "I've loved 'The Nutcracker' since I was a child and remember having everyone get up at my birthday party when I was 5 years old and dance the 'Waltz of the Flowers.'"

Sita said that students -- adults and children alike -- from the dance school will perform "snips and snaps" from the ballet.

"Audience members will be seated and will then be ushered in to take part in some portions of the dances," Sita said. "But I don't want to give too much away."

She did reveal that children and adults will have the chance to dance and that adults can learn how to waltz.

"It's very simple," Sita said. "Anyone can do it."

There will be other interactive elements, too.

"We'll be giving out party favors to the audience," Sita said. "For example, in the snow scene, audience members will have little baskets of snow that they can throw in the air."


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The day's festivities include a silent art auction, which is being sponsored by Benjamin Scott, owner of Advent Properties in Glenview, and his marketing manager Bridget Ernest. They will set up artwork for view in the lobby of the dance school and serve complimentary wine.

"We're happy to be part of this unprecedented event that brings the community together and even involves the community in the actual performance," Scott said.

He said artists from Oakland, San Francisco, Carmel and Michigan donated their work for the dance center's fundraiser. All proceeds will benefit the dance center and Adults in Ballet, a philanthropic group that helps fund scholarships for dance classes.

"Our mission is to make dance available for children and adults and to promote dance in the community," Sita said. "It's something we've been doing for 23 years."

FYI
Tickets to the Do-It-Yourself Nutcracker are $15 for adults and $8 for children under 8 years. The East Bay Dance Center is at 1318 Glenfield Ave., Oakland. Call 510-336-3262 or visit www.eastbaydancecenter.org for more information.