11 years with the Nutcracker

The love of dance transcends the ages, as Gail Ruff of Carson City shows.

"I had always wanted to dance as a youngster and never had the opportunity," said the 61-year-old grandmother.

Growing up in Lafayette, Calif., -which is in the Bay area - didn't afford her the occasion too. She said Lafayette was a lot smaller then and there weren't any dance studios in the area.

"We live on one of the longest streets in town, and there were 10 houses between our house and downtown," she said.

She said she always lamented not being able to take lessons.

It wasn't until years later when the Brewery Arts Center was putting on the Carson Cappers.

"My daughter, Louise (Ruff), called and said that I just have to do it," she said. "She had me involved in a comedy dance.

"That was the first time I'd danced as an amateur," Ruff said.

Since that time she has been involved in comedy routines and the Nutcracker Ballet.

The Pinkerton Studio began producing the ballet 12 years ago. Ruff has only been involved in the production for 11 years.

"That was the first year that I joined the class," Ruff recalled. "Vicki McMaster and Ayako Britt tried to realize a dream to put on the Nutcracker for the Carson area. They are both the directors and choreographers."

She said during the first meeting everyone was given an opportunity to make contributions.

"Vicki turned around and looked at me and said, 'You're dancing,'" Ruff said. "I'd never done ballet tap or jazz. I looked at her and said, 'I'm, brand new.' And then she said, 'We want you on that stage with us.'"

In this year's production, Ruff plays the part of the grandmother.

Since that time she has been active in the dance world, taking ballet one night a week and tap one night a week.

"It's really good exercise," she said "It tones your whole body. It's good for your morale and spirit."

The Nutcracker is done in the Community Center and begins Nov. 26.

When she's not doing her ballet, she works as the administrative assistant for the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association in Carson City.

"Our people's law school is one of the best around," she said. The association offices have hosted a number of international visitors, helping them to learn what the law is, and how it pertains to anyone in everyday life.

At this time of year, family members are invited to ride on board the ships on which their family members serve.

"We live with the crew and eat with the crew," she said.

She said she figures she'll fit right in with the crew of the USS Sacramento, which is a support vessel for the USS Constellation, an aircraft carrier.

"It's one of the oldest supply ships still running," she said.

She will board in Hawaii and sail with the crew until it docks in Bremerton, Wash.

Gail and Alan (Scotty) Ruff were married in Carson City, but didn't arrive her for quite some time.

"We have been here for 27 years now," she said. "We just love it."


Nutcracker, Nov. 26-27 at 7 p.m. and a matinee at 2 p.m. Nov. 28. Tickets are available 882-6748 and between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays at the Pinkerton Dance Studio, 2045 California St.


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