Ballet Etudes Bringing Holiday Classic To Arts Center - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Ballet Etudes Bringing Holiday Classic To Arts Center

November 6th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Ballet Etudes Bringing Holiday Classic To Arts Center

By Colleen Sparks

Managing Editor

A magical tale of dancing sugary treats and dreams come true that has become a winter holiday tradition will return to Chandler Center for the Arts this month.

Ballet Etudes’ production of “The Nutcracker” ballet will bring more than 100 dancers to the stage Nov. 23-25 and Nov. 30-Dec. 2.

“The Nutcracker” tells the story of Clara, who receives a special nutcracker from her godfather at a party on Christmas Eve. Later that night when Clara goes to the parlor to check on her precious nutcracker, mice the size of humans fill the room, the Christmas tree grows to tremendous heights and the nutcracker grows to life-size.

The mice and an army of gingerbread soldiers, led by the nutcracker, begin fighting until Clara throws her slipper at the Mouse King, distracting him long enough for the nutcracker to stab him to death.

Then the nutcracker turns into a handsome prince and takes Clara to the Land of Sweets. Clara and the prince encounter dancing Snowflakes, a Sugar Plum Fairy, as well as chocolate from Spain, tea from China, a large Mother Ginger and other colorful characters on their journey.

Of the 110 dancers from around the Valley performing in Ballet Etudes’ “Nutcracker” this season, 59 are members of the Ballet Etudes company, Kellan Meko, marketing and public relations manager and resident choreographer for Ballet Etudes said. The other dancers auditioned and were cast by a panel of judges.

Some Chandler dancers will take on big roles in “The Nutcracker.” Nina Petrone, 15, will play Clara; Chloe Boyd, 13, will be a Russian dancer and Party Girl; and Karli Willis, 12, will play a Russian, a Party Girl and a Lady in Waiting.

“They’re wonderful dancers and students, and we are proud to have them as company members,” Meko said.

Arianni Martin and Alejandro Mendez from Ballet Arizona will dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier in the performances. Other adult guest artists will perform as the Snow King and the male dancer in the Arabian number.

“Ballet Etudes is tied with Ballet Arizona for the longest-running production of The Nutcracker in the Valley, and our production is made up almost entirely of pre-professional students,” Meko said, adding:

“Ballet Etudes strives to reflect a professional ballet company in every way possible, and the professional training culminates in how the dancers perform and hold themselves onstage from their technical abilities to their maturity. There is a special vibrancy when students perform that can’t be captured by adults, and their excitement and energy can be felt by our audiences.”

Ballet Etudes’ founding artistic director Sharon Seder Meko, Kellan’s mother, is responsible for the overall ballet from vision, casting, rehearsals, tech crew to the final production, Kellan said.

Kellan, along with Judith O’Reilly Chruma, Susan Sharkey and Astrit Zejnati provided choreography for the ballet, and Kellan said Roma Morgan is “our talented seamstress.” She added “an army of wonderful and dedicated volunteers” help and offer leadership for the stage crew, makeup, props, costumes, chaperones, security, sales, meals and other elements of production.

Audiences can expect some changes from last year.

“Many of the soloist roles change from year to year to accommodate the strengths and skills of the different dancers who portray them, and we have made changes this year to Bon Bon Fairy and Dew Drop Fairy as well as the Snowflakes, but 90 percent of the production’s choreography has remained constant from last year,” Kellan said.

“We try to hold as true as possible to the classic ballet story of The Nutcracker for our audiences, so we have not added any new characters to our production,” she added.

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