Gate Ballet Gets Crackin’

Gate Ballet Gets Crackin'

Meaghan Haire

Looking for some holiday cheer and festivity on the Colgate campus this season? Look no further. The Colgate Ballet Club (CBC) is bringing their second annual performance of The Nutcracker to the stage December 8th to 10th. CBC will be performing The Nutcracker in Brehmer Theatre at 7 p.m. on the 8th and 9th, and again for a 2 p.m. matinee performance on Sunday the 10th.

The cast consists of seventeen Colgate students who will be playing roles in the famous and beloved holiday show. However, do not be surprised to see others performing in addition to the ballet club. There will be about 30 people in the show, which includes students picked to participate from other Colgate groups, as well as children from the Hamilton area.

“We have drawn people from many different groups around campus and the community to take roles in the show,” sophomore Katherine Pezzella said, who will be the maid in the Party Scene, one of the Spanish dancers in the Spanish Chocolate dance and a corps flower in the Waltz of the Flowers.

“We’ve had a lot of fun working with different groups in the area,” Pezzella said, “and it should be a great show.”

According to Pezzella, there will be young children in the Party Scene in Act 1, who auditioned for their roles at Joy’s Dance Studio on Route 12B. In addition, the parents in the Party Scene are Colgate students from other groups on campus. Sophomore Katrina Jensen, who will play the lead ballerina, Clara, is excited about the diversity of the cast.

“The children in the party scene are actually children,” Jensen shared. “I rehearse with them on Saturdays for an hour. I am the only actual Colgate ‘child’ in the party scene.”

Last year’s premiere performance was very successful, according to Jensen who also danced last year’s performance.

“But this year we will have even better costumes,” Jensen said. “Some of the choreography is the same, but we have also improved and added on to last year’s choreography.”

A very important contributor to CBC and The Nutcracker’s success is their Faculty Advisor and Ballet Mistress, Assistant Political Science Professor Mai’a Cross. As Ballet Mistress, Cross sets the choreography and teaches the students their dances. Cross has significant experience and professional training in ballet. Trained at the School of American Ballet, she graduated from their highest level. Since then she has been a company member of the Stamford City Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet Group, Hawaii State Ballet, and a principal dancer at the Harvard Ballet Company. She was one of the founders of the CBC and last year actually ended up dancing in Colgate’s Nutcracker performance after the lead was afflicted by an unexpected injury. Cross is not planning on performing this year, however.

According to Cross, this performance will be “the traditional Nutcracker with some pieces that were student choreographed, but mostly based off the original choreography of the Bolshoi Ballet Company [a Russian company].” One of the major student contributors to the choreography of the show is junior Shannon Larabee, who choreographed the Party Scene. Larabee and junior Amelie Lipman are the student directors.

DanceFest will be taking place the weekend before The Nutcracker. While Cross notes the popularity of DanceFest among Colgate students, she wants to encourage students to not get danced out, and to come see The Nutcracker the next weekend. “Hip hop dance [such as is seen at DanceFest] should be appreciated, but ballet takes quite a bit of dedication and long term effort, and is definitely worth seeing.”

There is no better way to bring in the holiday season than to go check out Colgate Ballet Company’s performance of The Nutcracker. Tickets will be free for all Colgate students and $3 for everyone else. Tickets will be available in advance by calling the box office at the Brehmer Theatre (315-228-7641) or can be bought at the door.