A Tradition Continues

Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet Performances Are Friday, Saturday

Maya Swanson will perform in The Nutcracker at The Reg Lenna Civic Center Submitted photo

The Sugar Plum Fairy will again visit the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet.

The Reg Lenna Civic Center will host the annual performance of “The Nutcracker” by veteran New York City Ballet Dancers, Lauren King and Joseph Gordon. They will play the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier respectively. The two dancers will also perform along with students of the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet. CRYB pre-professional students will also take part in the production. A school version of the play will be shown on Dec. 13th with performances on the 14th and 15th with King and Gordon.

“The Nutcracker” is the story of a girl named Clara who falls into a deep sleep after a holiday party where she is presented a nutcracker as a gift by her godfather Herr Drosselmeyer. During her dreams Clara embarks on a journey with a nutcracker prince through the Kingdom of Sweets. Along that journey, the two encounter a variety of intriguing characters including the Rat King, and the Sugar Plum Fairy. The show ends with the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier performing a romantic pas-de-deux, a dance ballet with two partners.

“In the past we’ve occasionally had guest artists come in, the last few years we haven’t but we feel that it’s really important for the community to have the opportunity to see dancers like that and for our dancers to dance with them,” CRYB executive director Elizabeth Bush said. “Lately, with the Comedy Center and a lot of more renaissance of the arts we thought this would be a great time to bring in some stars and they really are rising stars in the ballet world.”

Getting King and Gordon to perform would not have been possible without the cooperation of NYCB and CRYB. In particular one member was influential in making the performance possible.

“On our advisory board is a member of the NYCB, Daniel Ulbricht,” Bush said. “He has danced here in the past and it was through him that we were able to get these two dancers.”

King is a student of the American Dance Theater Workshop, the official school for the Eglevsky Ballet Company in New Hyde Park, N.Y. She performed during the school’s 2000-2001 season. In 2001, King entered the full time program at the School of American Ballet and became an apprentice with the NYCB in the fall of 2003. During her apprenticeship she danced a feature role in Michael Fokine’s “Choponiana” in NYCB’s 2004 winter season. She also originated a corps role in Susan Stroman’s Double Feature. King joined NYCB as a member of the corps de ballet in June 2004 was promoted to soloist in 2013.

Gordon trained with the Phoenix Dance Academy in Phoenix at age five. He enrolled in the School of American Ballet in fall 2006 and became an apprentice in July 2012. In August, 2011, he became the an apprentice with NYCB and joined the Company as a corps de ballet member in July 2012. He was promoted to soloist in February 2017 and to principal dancer this October. Gordon has previously performed ballets by George Balanchine, August Bournoville, Peter Martins, Benjamin Millepied, Matthew Neenan, Justin Peck, Alexi Ratmansky, Jerome Robbins, Troy Schumacher and Christopher Wheeldon. Gordon was also honored with the 2015-2016 Janice Levin Dancer Award. This is an award given to a member of the NYCB’s corps ballet who is considered promising. The award is named after Janice Levin, a New York City philanthropist and supporter of artists at NYCB and the School of American Ballet.

The Party Scene will feature Jamestown community members playing guests. Returning for this year’s performance is local theater veteran Adam Owens as Herr Drosselmeyer. Other community members include Richie Joly, Galena Duba-Weaver, Melissa Carr, Ray and JoAnn Taft, and Derek and Maggie Watkins.

CRYB student Maya Swanson plays a soldier doll, a snow corps which is a group of dancers and the Sugar Plum fairy on Dec. 13. She admits the work is hard but she has come to become familiar with her parts.

“At first it’s hard but then once you start going on you build stamina and it gets easier as you go on but when you first start it’s very tough,” Swanson said.

The performances will be the results of rehearsal sessions that began early in the fall for the CRYB students. The performances start early on because many of the cast members change roles over many years of performances.

“We have been practicing for three months just for The Nutcracker,” CRYB Artistic Director Monika Alch said. “They grow up, they start as a mouse and then three-four years later their going to be a ginger snap.”

CRYB will provide a performance for schools at Public performances are scheduled for Thursday morning on December 13. Schools interested should contact the Reg Lenna Box Office. Public performances are scheduled for Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets may be reserved by calling the Reg Lenna Box Office at 484-7070 or visit reglenna.com. Special ticket packages are available and include tickets and a pre-show reception. To learn more call CRYB at 664-9766.