By Elizabeth Keys
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Nutcracker Dream Ballet features a community of dancers from the area to raise money for youth performing programs, said artistic director Shelby Eidson.
The Art of Dance Studio hosts the one-night-only third annual holiday ballet 7 p.m. Saturday at Oklahoma State University’s Seretean Center Theater. Tickets are $5 and will benefit area youth in creating a fund for children’s performances in the area. Call 405-714-1355 to purchase tickets or visit the event page of www.artofdance.jigsy.com. Tickets will also be available at the door, Eidson said.
Open auditions were held in September, encouraging the local dance community to join forces to create a wonderful opportunity for Payne County children, she said.
“We have amassed a cast of over 80 performers and crew, with dancers from nearly every area dance studio, including special guest stars to support the children’s cast from Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and beyond,” she said. “Cylene Walker is also directing the production. Both of us are very proud of the level of professionalism in these young dancers.”
The communitywide effort seeks to provide more dance opportunities for local children and students. Among the many byproducts to adapting the Christmas classic, is seeing the children and adults sharing the art of ballet and studying classical music, Eidson said. The production is choreographed to the traditional Tchaikovksy score with some creative twists.
“The story is what Christmas is all about — families being together,” said Julia Ye, a Stillwater Middle School student who will dance the role of Clara. “The family invites friends over for a party to celebrate Christmas and Clara falls asleep into a dream — it’s magical.”
Ye, the daughter of Melody and Changming Ye, has been training for the performance at the Art of Dance.
Another student at the Art of Dance, Ryan Stockton, will play the role of the Nutcracker Prince. He is a private first class in the Oklahoma National Guard and an OSU sophomore.
“This is my first big performance because I just picked up studying dance again,” Stockton said. “I assist with teaching and train at the Art of Dance but I also drill with the National Guard.”
As prince, he will escort the starring ballerina, Michaela Harrington, a Stillwater native training at the Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education.
“The role of Sugar Plum Fairy is one every ballet dancer wants to dance,” Harrington said. “I love the freedom of movement I have when I dance. I also love to perform on stage. It is wonderful to see all of the long hours you put in at the studio pay off when you finally get to share your passion and love of dance with an audience. For me, performing is the most exciting and thrilling part of dancing.”
Harrington, 16, also studies dance in Stillwater at Encore and with Taylor Killian, who teaches dance at the OSU Colvin Center.
“Michaela is a phenomenally gifted dancer,” Killian said. “Some dancers have the facility — the body. Some have the heart and some have the mind — but Michaela has it all together with the determination.”
“Ballet is known for the “Nutcracker” and its the first one many people see when they are young,” said Harrington who attends a virtual high school in order to have a flexible schedule to continue her ballet training.
“This experience has brought the local dance community together, children and adults alike, to share their joy of dancing,” Eidson said. “Come share our love of dance with this special holiday performance.”