Local dancers join holiday fray in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’

November 15, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Alyssa Collister, Serena Martin and Anna Park (from left) rehearse ballet choreography Nov. 4 in Seattle with fellow cavalry and infantry members for the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s annual production of ‘Nutcracker.’ Photos by Greg Farrar

All three are soldiers in the army of the “Nutcracker.”

Fourth-grader Serena Martin and fifth-grader Anna Park are both in the legendary figure’s infantry. Alyssa Collister, an eighth-grader, takes a place among the cavalry.

“It’s really fun to get the opportunity to be with your friends and with the company, and just be part of something you want to do,” said Alyssa, 13.

The three young Issaquah residents are all part of the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s latest production of the “Nutcracker,” which runs Nov. 25 through Dec. 27. The young dancers aren’t on stage for very long; Alyssa guessed about five minutes. But she and others said that’s not important.

“I just really like being in it,” said Serena, 9.

She added the girls are in an exciting part of the ballet, the battle between the Nutcracker and the evil Mouse King. As infantry members, both she and Anna carry wooden guns.

All three girls have been in the “Nutcracker” previously. For Serena, this is her third year.

“It’s still very exciting,” said Serena’s mom Gina Martin.

By all accounts, it’s also a lot of work, requiring a lot of commitment. While most young performers take part in about half of the planned shows, they and their parents sign a contract stating the performers will be available for all shows if needed. They also agree to come to rehearsals and not just sort of disappear halfway through the production. The girls do not get paid for their work; they all are volunteers.

If you go

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’

As the show dates get closer, ballet has become a five-night-a-week proposition for at least two of the girls. They spend two days in rehearsal for the “Nutcracker” and the other three days in their regular ballet classes. Things really will get hectic the week of Thanksgiving, when Martin said certain rehearsals — including a dress rehearsal — become all-day affairs. Neither the girls nor their parents seem to mind.

“Our daughter has the drive and passion to do it,” Lyndia Collister said.

Not incidentally, even beyond driving her daughter back and forth to rehearsals and so on, Gina Martin is personally familiar with the rigors of appearing in a professional production of the “Nutcracker.” As a youth, Martin herself took part in stagings of the ballet, appearing as a child in the party scene and as a toy.

In the case of all three Issaquah girls, each has been involved with ballet for a long time. Serena started at age 3. Both Alyssa and Anna have been dancing for eight years.

Like the other two girls, Anna, 11, has been in the “Nutcracker,” previously, though mom Cynthia Park said her daughter hasn’t been able to do it every year, swapping the performance for family activities. Park said the “Nutcracker” requires a big commitment.

“Actually, I think it’s a good experience for her,” she added, referring to her daughter. She has insisted Anna stay up with other activities and her schoolwork.

“She’s taken it in stride,” Park said.

None of the girls confessed to any nervousness about appearing on stage. Last year, Serena performed in front of all her classmates when her class received tickets to the show. Even that wasn’t bothersome, she said, since performers can’t see the audience, apparently mostly because of lighting.

Park isn’t sure her daughter wants to be a dancer when she grows up. Serena didn’t seem sure either, but she isn’t quitting any time soon. (She may get point shoes next year.) Alyssa has no doubt dance is something she wants to do for a long time.

“Her dream is to be a professional dancer,” Collister said. “We’ll see how far that goes.”

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One Response to “Local dancers join holiday fray in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’”

  1. Judith Austin on December 15th, 2011 12:18 pm

    PNB is offering 20% select shows now through the end of December. Use this link to purcahse: https://www.pnb.org/promo/snow or mention SNOW when ordering by phone 206.441.2424.

    Judith May Austin
    PR & Marketing Assistant
    Pacific Northwest Ballet
    301 Mercer Street
    Seattle, WA 98109

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