Dance company plans Victorian tea prior to ‘Nutcracker’ performance

Zeraphine Jaeckel stars as Clara in “The Nutcracker,” playing next month at the Downey Theatre.

Zeraphine Jaeckel stars as Clara in “The Nutcracker,” playing next month at the Downey Theatre.

DOWNEY – Southern California Dance Theatre will debut an all-new Victorian Christmas tea experience prior to its matinee performance of “The Nutcracker” Dec. 23 at the Downey Theatre.

Guests will be treated to a luxurious midday tea with beautifully appointed tables, fine china, Victorian-inspired accessories, and goodies all in the spirit of the Victorian time period.

Dress code for the tea is “smart casual”; midi or maxi dress for ladies, and collared shirt and trousers for men (jacket optional).

Check-in begins at 11:30 a.m., at which time participants may peruse a variety of tea hats, fascinators, and men’s jabots available for rent or purchase.

High tea style luncheon will be served at a quarter past non, prepared by Berg Catering, featuring scones, an assortment of gourmet tea sandwiches, desserts, and beverages.

Following the tea party, guests will receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the Downey Theatre. This includes an up-close look at the costumes, tutus, and set designs, and an opportunity to take photos with some of the SCDT dancers.

There will also be special appearances by Clara (performed by 11-year-old Zeraphine Jaeckel) and the Sugar Plum Fairy (performed by Los Alamitos High School senior Gabriela Fellingham).

Zeraphine and Gabriela have been brought up under the tutelage of Paula Vreulink, SCDT’s artistic director, and perform in the three annual shows put on by the company, as well as compete in the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix.

At the age of 9, Gabriella began ballet instruction with Vreulink. She has had many iconic roles, from Lilac Fairy in “Sleeping Beauty” to Swanhilda in this past spring’s Coppelia ballet. Gabriela is making her debut as Sugar Plum Fairy (Saturday) and Snow Queen (Sunday) partnered with Jack Virga as Cavalier and Snow King, respectively.

Zeraphine came to SCDA at 7 years of age for the Summer Dance Camp. She later enrolled in ballet classes so she could participate in her first “Nutcracker.”

By the time she was 9, she earned her first solo role as Clara. This year, she will perform as Dream Clara alongside her “Nutcracker” prince, Michael Mendoza.

Once the tour and photo opportunities have concluded, Victorian tea party guests will then enjoy the ballet performance from premium VIP seating, watching Clara as she dances with mischievous rodents, pristine snowflakes, and the elegant Sugar Plum Fairy.

This year’s storyline has been reimagined by Vreulink, and promises to “to delight first time ballet attendees as well as seasoned connoisseurs.”

Performances of “The Nutcracker” are Saturday, Dec. 22, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 23, at 2:30 p.m. Prices start at $29 if purchased pre-sale online.

Tickets to the Victorian tea are $100 and include lunch and VIP seating. These tickets can be purchased by contacting Maureen Chen at or (310) 266-5137. Deadline to purchase tea tickets is Dec. 16.

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