Tacoma has lost another “Nutcracker” ballet — but its former director just keeps on going.
Last June, Jo Emery had to close her ballet school, which she began in the late 1960s, and its Tacoma Performing Dance Co. She recently announced that their “Nutcracker” would no longer continue. But the veteran dancer, whose school has produced many professional dancers, will continue to teach and choreograph around Tacoma.
“Financially I couldn’t keep the company going,” explained Emery. With no parking thanks to surrounding businesses, the Jo Emery Ballet School just off South Tacoma Way wasn’t making enough money, and the nonprofit dance company — which produced a “Nutcracker” performance for the past 30 years, most recently at Stadium High School theater — didn’t have space anymore.
The company’s board recently decided to give the “Nutcracker” sets and costumes to Seattle company DASS Dance, which presents a mini-“Nutcracker” at Washington Hall in Seattle in mid-December.
Students mostly stopped dancing, Emery says, although a few followed her to new teaching posts at Asia Pacific Cultural Center and Metro Parks Tacoma, where she has begun an adult division for ballet and jazz at the STAR Center. Emery will begin teaching at Tacoma Community College in 2017.
“I’m really enjoying this,” Emery said of her new direction. “As artistic director of the ‘Nutcracker’ you have to cast people, find places for everyone. I don’t have that to deal with now. And running a dance company is a 24/7 job. Now I can just enjoy teaching and freelance choreography.”
For information on the Metro Parks dance classes, see metroparkstacoma.org/metro-arts.