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New Mexico State University

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NMSU dance students volunteer at Juarez children's home

A beloved American classic will cross cultural borders as New Mexico State University dance students and children from Hogar de Ninos Emmanuel (Emanuel Children's Home) in Juarez, Mexico, present "The Nutcracker" at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, at Escuela Preparatoria el Chamizal (Chamizal Prep School) in Juarez.

boys and 30 girls from the children's home will perform with 15 NMSU dance student volunteers in the full length Christmas ballet.

"These children are beginning to realize that if you put your heart and mind into something you can accomplish something great, even if you are an orphan," said Kirsten Anderson, NMSU dance student and director for "The Nutcracker."

Emanuel Children's Home was established 40 years ago and today there are 100 children living at the home. A School of the Arts was started at the home in 2001 to get the children involved in dance, art, sewing and fashion design.

All the children are involved in the production, from designing scenery to making costumes to dancing in the ballet. The NMSU student volunteers have been traveling to Juarez on Saturday mornings to rehearse with the children.

"All talents come together to create a wonderful product," Anderson said. "Something greater happens when you reach out to help people."

Other student choreographers include Aimee Feuille, Andrew Parrish, Jessica Garcia, Dayna Drollinger, Ra Williams, Indrani Rauth, and NMSU dance adviser Lucillene deGeus.

"Many people from around the country that have heard about this effort are sending donations for the production, including tutus and mouse costumes," said Debra Knapp, assistant professor of physical education, recreation and dance.

The NMSU theater department also has donated costumes for the ballet.

"We have never really done anything like this," Knapp said. "'The Nutcracker' is not a tradition in Mexico as it is in the U.S. and we feel wonderful to be able to give these children an opportunity to perform."

Escuela Preparatoria el Chamizal (Chamizal Prep School) is located behind the Facultad Ciencias Sociales (social science campus) of Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (Juarez Independent University), at Avenida Universidad 2255. For information about directions, contact Jonathan Lopez at (915) 203-3174.

For more information about the production, contact Debra Knapp at (505) 646-2070.