Rescue Pets Perform in “The Nutcracker” at the Pioneer Center in Reno
Grey female dog named Gracie wearing a red bow as she gets ready to perform in the Nutcracker Ballet in Reno.

Bringing Rescue Pets Center Stage at the Pioneer Center

The lights went down in the audience, the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra began to play beautifully, and a burst of color came onto the stage. Patrons were enchanted with what they saw during this year’s A.V.A. Ballet Theater’s performance of “The Nutcracker” – SPCA of Northern Nevada (SPCA of NN) Alumni Dogs! Each year in the opening act of the holiday classic “The Nutcracker” the audience is delighted when the ballet opens with a ballerina dancing across the stage with an adorable dog, and for the first time, the Pioneer Center decided to use rescue dogs who had been adopted from the SPCA of NN. They wanted to help showcase how amazing rescue pets are and help to promote pet adoption in our community.

A group of dogs and owners backstage at the Nutcracker at the Pioneer Center in Reno.

Most of the group of pups and performers for the Nutcracker Ballet!

Four wonderful SPCA of NN volunteers who have adopted pets from us were able to bring their own dog to perform. The dogs charmed everyone who was lucky enough to meet them from stagehands, to performers, and finally to the sold out audiences during the performances. A ballerina, Sarah, was able to help handle the dogs backstage, working with the owners, and walked each pup across for their performance debuts.

The scene our alumni starred in was during the opening act in the first five minutes of the ballet. The story goes that party guests are arriving at Clara’s (the main character) home. Each guest is dressed for a formal party with big party gowns, hair done spectacularly, and gifts in hand. One special guest is always the favorite because she brings her dog to the party with her (we can’t blame her – dogs are always welcome at parties we attend!) and this year as the dog walked across the stage, the audience went wild with applause and laughter.

Cinder made his Nutcracker debut! He did great with the ballerinas! So cute 💗

Posted by Emily Hutson on Saturday, December 8, 2018

(Enjoy this adorable video that volunteer Emily Hutson posted as she helped her alumni dog Cinder perform on stage!)

The Pioneer Center reached out to the SPCA of NN to feature the pets, and they wanted to help our cause as much as possible. They donated an entire page of the program to the SPCA of NN wherein audience members were able to read about the organization and about the dogs starring in the show. The AVA Ballet also announced the special fuzzy stars before the performances began. Events like these are very impactful. It helps to widen the adoption audience in our community and helps to raise much needed awareness not only about adoption, but about our low-cost spay/neuter program, and low-cost vaccine and microchip clinic, as well!

Sarah the dancer with Scout the dog and Scouts owner SPCA Volunteer Elena

Sarah the ballerina posing with Scout, the dog, and his owner Elena, a wonderful volunteer.

We plan to partner with the Pioneer Center and the A.V.A. Ballet again next year to again feature rescue pets in the performances of “The Nutcracker.” We would like to extend a huge thanks to the Pioneer Center, the A.V.A. Ballet Theater, the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, the dedicated volunteers who brought their alumni dogs, and to the memory of Mary Van Alstyne, who was an advocate to shelter dogs everywhere. We also want to give a special thanks to the wonderful ballerina, Sarah Ziolowski, for taking such thought and care to handle all the alumni dogs and making them feel like ballerinas themselves during the performances. Finally, we would like to thank Dennyse Daniels, a supporter of the SPCA of Northern Nevada and a true advocate for pet rescue and adoption and Steve Trounday from the Pioneer Center. Their dedication made this partnership possible!




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