Issaquah lends talent to Pacific Northwest Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’

November 27, 2012

By Lillian O'Rorke

Megan McKelvey (right), an eighth-grader at Beaver Lake Middle School, tries on her calvary costume during rehearsal at the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Phelps Center. By Adrienne Woods

Since 1983, Christmastime in the Northwest has meant a trip to the ballet to see the fantasy dream world come alive in “Nutcracker.” But for a lucky few, the thrill extends to dancing on stage to Tchaikovsky’s classic score.

Not just reserved for professionals, each year the Pacific Northwest Ballet opens 86 roles to its local students.

And this December’s cast includes eight area dancers. From youngest to oldest, Chelsea Inagawa will dance the role of Little Girl; Serena Martin has been cast as part of the infantry; Chloe Chow and Anna Park are tall servants; Danielle Bae, Anna Paula Lanzara and Megan McKelvey are all members of the cavalry; and Alyssa Collister will dance as a fighting mice woman.

“Nutcracker” auditions were held in early October.

“It was nerve-wracking, but it was interesting to see other people who are auditioning,” said McKelvey, explaining that there were dancers from all levels at the auditions. “I learned from it because they were older and more experienced … I saw their technique and I saw how, even though it gets harder, it looks a whole lot cleaner and sharp.”

McKelvey took her first ballet lesson when she was 4. Now at age 14, the eighth-grade student at Beaver Lake Middle School first appeared in the “Nutcracker” three years ago and again the year after that.

“It gets easier probably each year, but those nerves are always there,” she said. “Once you do your first performance, you kind of easy up on yourself.”

If you go

‘Nutcracker’

  • McCaw Hall, Seattle Center
  • Dec. 7-29
  • Tickets: $25 – $130
  • Purchase in person at 301 Mercer St., by calling 206-441-2424 or at www.pnb.org.

As well as dancing as a member of the calvary, McKelvey is also playing the role of a scrim mouse this year, which means that come opening night she will don a giant mouse head. The larger-than-life rodents appear in both the beginning and the end of the second act.

“I felt really accomplished like I’ve been working hard enough that I’m able to be in it,” she said about being cast in the roles. “It feels good, because I know that some people don’t get a part, and I’ve done well enough that I can actually get one.”

The “Nutcracker” with all its decadent scenery and colorful costumes comes to Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall for 30 performances Dec. 7-29.

Opening weekend festivities, Dec. 7-9, include crafts, mini dance classes and roaming magicians for guests who arrive to shows an hour early. Learn more about special events and performances at www.pnb.org.

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