Ballet’s last run of ‘Nutcracker’ features local children dancers

December 3, 2014

Pacific Northwest Ballet is celebrating the last year of its one-of-a-kind Kent Stowell and Maurice Sendak “Nutcracker” that has been dazzling Northwest audiences for the past 31 years and nine Issaquah kids are in the production.

The local kids and their roles are Joscelynn Barbee, Teenager; Kendra Ko, Little Girl; Makena Lung, Toy Theater Girl; Emma McIntosh, Small Servant; Anna Montgomery, Party Girl; Vincent Bennett, Nutcracker; Alyssa Collister, Fighting Mice Woman; Natalie Folts, Scrim Mouse; and Jade Wimberly, Small Servant.

Read more

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

November 27, 2012

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.”

Read more

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

November 15, 2011

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.

Read more

Childrens’ dancing brings fairy tale ‘Cinderella’ to life

February 1, 2011

If you recognize the love story that casts two evil stepsisters, a fairy godmother and an irresistible prince, then you will be familiar with the story of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s next production.

Chloe Chow (center) and two other young ballet dancers rehearse choreography Jan. 26 for a scene from Pacific Northwest Ballet’s upcoming ‘Cinderella’ production. By Alysha Alibhai

The timeless fairy tale “Cinderella” debuts at McCaw Hall Feb. 4 in time for Valentine’s Day. The excitement is brewing as three Issaquah children prepare for their parts in the highly anticipated show.

The stars

Anna Park, Chloe Chow and Vincent Bennett sat patiently in a studio among their fellow cast members in The Phelps Center waiting for rehearsal to begin Jan. 26, 10 days before opening night. Poised and elegant are not typical words used to describe children of their age, but these young dancers are as focused as they are talented.

“This production is much different than other ‘Cinderellas,’” Kent Stowell said to the rehearsal audience.

He choreographed the production based on the classic French fairy tale and is one of the founding artistic directors of the ballet company.

“It’s a classic story and it’s really fun,” said Anna, a ballerina from Challenger Elementary School. Anna has been dancing since age 5, and said she is “very excited” to be a part of this show.

Vincent, who also attends Challenger, is the youngest of the three Issaquah ballet stars and is in the third grade. He first became fascinated with the art form after watching “The Nutcracker” and has been dancing since he was 3, said his mom Aleksandra Bennett.

Read more

Providence Point Chamber Quartet returns for 20th year

October 26, 2010

Providence Point Chamber Quartet musicians Virginia Dziekonski, Tom Dziekonski, Eileen Swanson and Ingrid Fredrickson (from left) start their 20th season on Halloween. Contributed

It all started because violist Eileen Swanson had jury duty in 1991.

She met a woman whose mother-in-law, Verona Crane, was turning 85. The family wanted to throw Crane a surprise birthday party, and they wanted a string quartet to feature at the celebration

Swanson agreed, and assembled a quartet of her friends who played for groups across Seattle, including the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, ACT Theatre and Seattle Opera.

“We just had a wonderful time, as everybody out there adored it and asked if we would come back,” Swanson said. Read more

‘Nutcracker’ fills the season with wonderment

December 8, 2008

Pacific Northwest Ballet Co. dancers and PNB School students in ‘Nutcracker.’ Photo by Angela Sterling.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Co. dancers and PNB School students in ‘Nutcracker.’ Photo by Angela Sterling.

Whether you’re an annual viewer, an occasional ticket holder or a newcomer, young or old, the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker” is a feast of wonderment for the eyes and ears. 

This year’s 25th anniversary production is no exception. McCaw Hall itself drips with holiday magic and the possibility that makes this season so bright. 

But it’s truly the performers who bring “Nutcracker” to life.It’s hard not to feel wonderment as the rich costumes and sets fill the stage and as Clara’s dreams transport her to other worlds. 

It’s a timeless story created by PNB Founding Artistic Director Kent Stowell and world-famous children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (“Where the Wild Things Are”) that will have Seattle’s “Nutcracker” celebrating its 1,000 performance Christmas Eve. Read more