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What an exciting evening!

I was so excited for Tuesday’s Family Series:Cinderella! We had a very welcome full-house at the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy auditorium highlighting Act II of this Saturday’s production Cinderella, all in full costume and make-up. I watched curious kids learning about theater etiquette, Peter spoke about the choreography, we all saw highlights of the ballet in real time and got to meet the dancers up-close and onstage. Just click on the pictures and I need say no more. Many thanks to our season sponsor of the entire series: Treasure Valley Family Magazine and all the volunteers who helped make it possible. Partners like you make living and working in the Treasure Valley a pleasure and very rich, indeed. It is very gratifing to watch the “new” Ballet Idaho grow and take flight in just 1 ½ short years, it’s our second season with a new Artistic Director and new company and re-defined Academy of dance. We are here to stay and I invite you to join the movement and keep company with us! Family Series: All-Italian Program is on April 6th at 6:00 here at the studios! See you at the theater . . . -Julie Numbers Smith-Executive Director [flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157623235997311"]

Cinderella, Cinderella night and day it's Cinderella!

Rehearsals are going so well for our new production, it's hard to believe the company just came back from a long post-Nutcracker lay-off. The dancers are in amazing shape! Both my Cinderellas, Phyllis Affrunti and Racheal Nole are fabulous --- they are very different dancers. One of the great things about having a number of principal dancers is the ability to see the differences in artistic focus. Both these ladies are working on a very high plane of inspiration -- this is one of the best gifts we can offer our audiences here in the Treasure Valley, the ability to see really first class dancers at the top of their form. While Racheal is sweet and tender, lyrical in her pas de deuxs, sparkling and joyful in her solos, Phyllis is dramatic and vulnerable, finely shading her pas de deux moments and bringing great pathos to the Act 3 "mad scene." Thinking back on all the great leading dancers I worked with on Cinderella in New York at American Ballet Theatre, I can only say that my two ballerinas here in Boise can match them step for step! Meanwhile, all the other dancers are rising to the occasion, especially the surprising and delightful work of Steven Bain and Michael Dunsmore, playing the two Step-Sisters. They have the company convulsed with laughter at every rehearsal! They are truly hilarious and, after a bit of hesitation at first (few male dancers' hearts soar when they see themselves cast as "Step-Sisters...) they decided to plunge into their roles with gusto. The roles of Step-Sisters are a real challenge both in comic timing and dramatic musicality --- not to mention learning to walk in heels! Both Steven and Michael are doing fantastic work and I think our audiences, especially kids, will roar with laughter at their antics. Our dancers look beautiful in the Ballroom scene waltzing the night away, they carry fantasy to new heights in the Four Seasons section of Act 1 and offer strong dramatic portrayals of the myriad characters who pursue the Prince in Act 3. Our company men this year are really growing artistically and technically and they have quite a lot of spectacular dancing to do in all 3 Acts. Please join us at the Morrison Center on Saturday, February 6. This ballet is a hilarious and romantic fairytale, a special treat for audiences of all ages --- you won't want to miss it! Also, don't forget about Overture Notes, my conversational look behind the scenes that happens one hour before curtain time --- that's 1pm and 7pm and Saturday in the theatre. I have a lot of great stories about Cinderella, especially the time Mikhail Baryshnikov and I came REALLY CLOSE to performing the Step-Sisters ourselves!! -Peter Anastos [flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157623337898130"]

Week two of Cinderella

Week two of Cinderella rehearsals begin and the dancers are ready to learn Act III. Class is quiet and it seems that a little mental fatigue and muscle soreness have set in. By Friday I have seen it all... tripped over my broom, had my practice skirt fall to my ankles in some turns, spilled my coffee on James' ballet shoes. I tell myself that I am "saving my grace for the stage" and that it's better these things happen in rehearsal! Since there are lots of props for me in this show, I make a mental list with Monica... a crust of bread, a needle and thread, the slipper... Both casts work on the last pas de deux with Alex. It's beautiful and I'm so inspired watching Phyllis and Jared as they put it together. I watch through the doorway as the Prince and his companions double saute basque their way through Act III in search of Cinderella. It's like a "dance- off" and that thought makes me laugh. Friendly competition can bring great things out in dancers. Girls from the enemble join us for a scene where the Prince is showered with a deluge of shoes as he pirouettes. He hits the floor in the fetal position and everyone giggles. The Stepsisters enter the studio and the final scene begins. I watch as Peter explains the comic timing to them with the precision of a surgeon. It must be clear in order to be funny... and they are. When Steven offers a sickled foot and smile to be fit by the slipper I realize that no matter how hard I try, they will steal the show!

--Racheal Nole, Principal Dancer

....to be continued!

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Nutcracker on the Strip

Exhausted the morning after finishing six successful shows of Ballet Idaho’s The Nutcracker and attending the cast party, I was already on a flight to Las Vegas, Nevada for another week of performances. Upon arrival in this brand new city, I was excited to start my adventure. The city was filled with lighted up skyscrapers and billboards with a mountainous desert backdrop. However, it was straight to the studio to rehearse with an unknown partner and company of dancers. After being welcomed by the staff and company, I rehearsed the Arabian variation with Barry over the next few days. What you would normally have a few weeks to prepare, we had less than five days. Within three days of working together, the difficulties turned into a solid routine and we we’re very comfortable dancing with each other. Since I was only guesting for one variation in Act II, I had plenty of downtime to enjoy The Strip. Staying at the Paris hotel was a treat. The view from my room allowed me to enjoy the illumination of the city and water-show in front of the Bellagio anytime. The tourist priced food was satisfactory. French cafés and restaurants lined down the cobblestone passage. The $9 chocolate croissant and coffee was well worth the outrageous cost. The location was conveniently near the Miracle Mile, a long corridor filled with young, stylish stores where I could finish my holiday shopping. High-end shops were found at ever corner in the nearby hotels. I had the opportunity to visit the surrounding casinos sightseeing, although I was unable to gamble because of my age. Getting lost for over an hour in Caesar’s Palace was an exploration. The theatre we performed in was also attached to the Paris. The performance routine was standard including a warm-up on stage, rehearsal, corrections, and then the show. The costumes and sets were all very familiar because they were borrowed from Ballet Idaho. It was another amazing experience to perform in a crowded, but beautiful venue. Before I knew it, my five performances were over. Thankful for the experience, I said goodbye to the new friends I made. My last night in Las Vegas, I had an entertaining night out on The Strip with some of the dancers. One week after I arrived, I was on a flight to New Jersey to enjoy the holidays with my family. Looking back on the experience, I am extremely thankful for the opportunity I was given and I am already planning my next trip back to Las Vegas. Read the review! 'Nutcracker' a near-perfect treat - News - ReviewJournal.com* --Jessica Sulikowski

Cinderella!

It was our first week of preparing for "Cinderella." Music by Prokofiev and choreography by Peter Anastos, it is a story we all know and love. The dancers are working very hard and learning lots of new material. It's nice to be back in the studio and put our bodies back together after the holiday layoff. Behind the scenes, we find new uses for some of the many props used in this ballet... the ribbons that are used to depict the wheels of Cinderella's carriage are also great for rhythmic gymnastic routines on the break! All in all, we managed to set most of Act I and II which is a great accomplishment in just a week! For me, "Cinderella" is like revisiting an old friend and it's comforting to have something familliar in a place that is new to me. I danced this version of the ballet at Nevada Ballet twice, in 2003 and 2008. Of course there are always changes and updates in the production to best suit the company, though I try to share whatever knowledge I can from my own past experience. One addition that is very special to me is including children from the Ensemble in Act I and I look forward to sharing the stage with my lovely students who will play "mice". Their enthusiam is contagious! Next week we will begin Act III, but for now a well deserved weekend! ....to be continued --Racheal Nole

My Nutcracker Adventure

Sunday December 13, 2009 It’s 4:30 pm Sunday December 13th. The Morrison Center is rolling up the carpet from Ballet Idaho’s successful run of Nutcrackers. The crew was busy packing, the volunteers were helping gather costumes, and the company was abuzz about post show parties and their plans for the holidays. What was I doing? Packing for an early flight that would take me to dance in yet another Nutcracker. “What am I thinking?” kept running through my head when I checked my plane fight time. The 6 am flight departure was glaring at me, but so was the destination. NYC here I come! Many ballet schools around the country have their very own Nutcracker traditions. This holiday classic is where most dancers have their first stage experience that doesn’t include the word “Recital”. New Tampa Dance Theatre is one of these schools. The students carry most of the show themselves, which is a huge feet. The Sugar Plum and Cavalier are professional dancers that are hired just for the shows. That is where I come in. But before I could get to the sunshine state I had to take a detour to work with my partner in New York City. Monday December 14, 2009 I arrived in New York in the early evening. I had a list a mile long of places to eat, people to see, and of course, stores to visit. Way more than I could ever accomplish. Of course I also had to put an entire Grand Pas de Deux together with my partner, Benjamin Lester, who danced with Ballet Idaho last season. This was going to be Ben’s last show before he retired and we wanted it to be as much fun as possible. We went to dinner to discuss our strategy of working, eating, and shopping. Once I was full of yummy New York goodness, we walked through Times Square and shopped in Soho before returning to Ben’s home for some serious youtubing of Grand Pas videos and then sleep. Tuesday December 15, 2009 Tuesday morning arrived way to early for me, but I was excited to get to work. Ben and I took the subway to Steps on Broadway to take ballet class. I was hopeful to see some well-known dancers. I wasn’t disappointed. Along with several principals from American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, the recently retired Alexandria Ferri, who is my idol stood diagonally from me. It was pretty hard to concentrate on myself in class with dancers all around me that I usually only see in magazines. Just as entertaining for me were the other “regular” students in class. I am not sure if they even knew what the teacher was asking for half the time, but they were truly living in the moment. I am almost positive that the Saturday Night Live character who could “kick, stretch and was 50 years old” was based on one of the women standing by me. After class Ben and I trekked to the Manhattan Movement Arts Center. It was a beautiful facility and I was able to watch the famous David Howard teach a class before we got to work. Surprisingly we got everything set and solid within 2 hours. Pretty satisfied with our effort Ben went off to oversee an event he was hosting and I was off to shop, eat, and visit with old friends. I was on my own in the Big Apple and loving every minute of it. Wednesday December 16, 2009. Wednesday brought much of the same as the day before. Ballet class with most of the same amazing dancers I had seen the day before, including Wendy Whalen. Then off to rehearsal, a lovely little meal at Bouchon in Columbus Circle, and some more much needed visits to old friends. Besides getting completely lost on the subway at midnight, I was already deeming this the best guesting job I ever had and I hadn’t even gotten to the real job yet. I stuffed my bags full of all my new NYC goodies that I found and was ready for some sun in Florida. Thursday December 17, 2009 Once again I was dragging my luggage to an airport way to early to mention the time. On the way to our flight we drove by the old Yankee stadium. I was informed that they are selling it off bit by bit to pay for the new stadium. This was latter confirmed when I opened my Skky Mall magazine on the plane. Besides me leaving my wallet at the ticket counter, going through security before I realized it, going back through security to find it as someone with my wallet was headed the other way, not being able to get back through security to get my wallet because my ticket was (guess what, in my wallet), and a number of pages over the intercom of LaGuardia, we were in Tampa, Florida and it was 70 degrees outside. This was no sweater weather! Now for those of you who don’t know Ben, he likes to do things a little different than the norm, which I am all for. As we are walking to the rental car counter he informed me that he asked for the “mystery car” package. Basically, he had no idea what we were going to get, but it was suppose to be one step above compact. I was seriously hoping for a Winnebago and worried that that 15-passenger van I just saw drive by was slated for us. Unfortunately, a mini van was the mysterious vehicle we were waiting for and Ben was not having it. As I guarded the luggage Ben secured something a little more stylish and only 10 more dollars a day. We loaded our luggage into a convertible, put the top down and drove to dress rehearsal. The New Tampa Dance Theatre was performing at Southern Florida University. After an unintended driving tour through the campus, we finally found the theatre and Ben introduced me to everyone. Our dressing room was huge and a beautiful gift basket full of snacks and chocolate was waiting for our growling tummies. The kids were nice and little shy at first. Although they all knew Ben from him guesting with them before, I was a new addition and they were curious. When we got the crash course in our entrances in the opening and finale of Act II, little heads were peaking in the studio door to check out the new ballerina. It made me remember how I felt watching professionals when I was younger. I felt very inspired to do the best I could and show how much fun it could be. The dress rehearsal went well and we were off to the hotel with the top down and the heat on. Friday December 18, 2009 It seems like when you go away is when everything back home goes crazy. This was happening for the both of us to a certain extent so we spent most of the day taking care of business, buying things we forgot for the theatre and resting before the show. The audience for opening night was packed full of families excited to see their little ones perform. With big smiles on their faces, the dancers took the stage by storm. With every dance I got more and more excited to get on stage. Ben and I walked out on stage and everything just felt right. It was just plain fun. The audience gave all of us a standing ovation and there was cheering all around. Still on a high from the show, we went looking for food. We wound up at a little family run Sushi place that was strangely quiet for a Friday night and very, very delicious. With our round bellies that would hopefully deflate by the matinee, we waddled to our car and attempted the drive back to the hotel with me using Ben’s GPS on his iphone to guide us. Possibly, I should have gotten a crash course in reading this device, because we missed the exit and ended up on the causeway bridge into St. Petersburg. It was too bad it was midnight, because I am sure the drive would have been beautiful during the day. An hour later and after lesson in how to read maps, we were resting up for our two show day. Saturday December 19, 2009. Before the matinee we ventured to this little breakfast place Ben knew. When we sat at our table, we noticed that the restaurant was playing the Grand Pas from Nutcracker. This has always been a sore point with dancers who listen to Nutcracker 6 hours a day for months at a time. You try to get away from work and sure enough the store or building you venture into to is blaring Waltz of the Flowers, Russian, or Marzipan. We found it unusual that the Grand Pas was actually playing and had serious problems concentrating on the menu until it was done. We then went looking for Christmas presents for our families. This is where my warning to all comes. If you pass by a huge building that says “International Flea Market”. It is not what it seems. Ben and I parked our car in front of a particular colorful one of these warehouses and were already hoping for handmade trinkets and eclectic finds. Upon entering our dreams were dashed as tattoo stands, spandex dresses, laminate furniture and replica designer bags were as far as the eye could see. It was then that Ben realized he left his tights at the hotel and they were probably still damp from the wash the night before. He dropped me off at the theater and drove back to retrieve them. When he returned his tights were still damp and against my better judgment he laid them across the makeup lights in our dressing room. Well, when I went to warm up, he went to turn his tights over and sure enough they had round burn marks up and down both legs. Now, I knew this was bad, but I could not stop laughing at the whole situation. Luckily, another dancer had an extra pair of white tights that Ben could borrow. Unluckily, the other male dancer was about 5’7”. Ben is about 6’2” and all legs. He ended up having to wear his burned tights under the smaller one. Although it wasn’t noticeable from the audience, I could still see little brown spots and it made us both laugh for most of the day. Sunday December 20, 2009 It was our last show together. More importantly, it was Ben’s last performance. His parents came to see him and we both got a little teary at the beginning of our pas. Once again Ben and I had a wonderful show and cheered all the other students on during their divertissements. When the show was over, I immediately gave my flowers to the student who danced Dew Drop. She had sprained her ankle in Saturday night’s show, and like a true ballerina in training, she bucked up and danced beautifully on Sunday. Ben gave his flowers to a girl who did her entire Spanish dance to either no music or the wrong music due to a music malfunction on opening night, but kept on dancing like a pro. Even at this young age, these dancers were proving the show must go on. We were immediately asked back for next year, which prompted me to remind Ben, that dancers never truly retire. I was sad to say goodbye to everyone, but anxious to get home to Boise for the holidays. The cold snap was heading to Florida and even though everyone was starting to bundle up, Ben drove me to the airport with the top down, the heat on, and Opera blaring. A dancer’s life is always changing. Most of us live our lives like modern day nomads. Moving from city to city, going anywhere where we can dance. The one true constant in our world seems to be the Nutcracker. Some dancers like it, some dancers could do without it. For me, it is like an old friend. There is always an adventure, an old and new story to tell, a lot of laughs, and a few tears. So last week when our pianist attempted to get away with playing “Waltz of the Flowers” for pirouettes and every dancer shouted “Noooooooo!!!” I secretly knew that when I heard that music in 10 months it would make me smile. --Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti, Principal Dancer

Variations on Cinderella

What a long and (almost) happy relationship I've had with Cinderella over the years! In 1982, I was invited by Mikhail Baryshnikov to collaborate with him on the choreography for a new production of Cinderella for American Ballet Theatre in New York. We started work but were interrupted by a dancers' strike later that year. It was 2 years before we returned to the project. In 1984 our production was given its premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. and was danced by ABT all over the United States, culminating in performances at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Although we sold a lot of tickets --- and some gave us credit for "saving" ABT from financial ruin --- the production had its problems. In the end, no ballet can have more than one choreographer, and while Misha and I worked hard to join our visions in one work, the ballet did not receive the kinds of reviews we had hoped. Only Arlene Croce, in the New Yorker magazine, recognized what we tried to do --- and also pointed out, surprisingly, that our Cinderella was the first full-length original ballet ever created for ABT! After two seasons, our ABT Cinderella passed out of the repertoire. I didn't think I would ever see her again, but exactly ten years later I was invited back into her life. Robert Denvers, artistic director of the Royal Ballet of Flanders in Belgium, thought it might be good for me to re-work my choreography into a new ballet. He invited me to make my second version of Cinderella and it had its premiere at the Opera House in Antwerp, Belgium in 1994. We re-designed the production to reflect the style of Flemish painters of the 17th century. It was all costumed in black and white and very beautiful. It had a great success wherever the company toured in Europe and I was really pleased with the beautiful dancers and their great work. It was a staple of the Royal Ballet's repertoire for nearly ten years. Later, this production was sold to the National Ballet of Turkey, where it had its premiere in Ankara in 2003. Meanwhile, in 1995 I was asked to create another production of Cinderella, my third, for the Hong Kong Ballet in China. We had a brilliant and wonderful Russian designer, Alexander Vassiliev, and we set this version at the Court of Peter the Great. Fantastically colorful costumes and scenery made this a kind of wild Russian fairytale ballet. It was danced in Hong Kong for many years, then a British Crown colony, and eventually made it up to the mainland on tour. Having a Chinese cast for Cinderella brought the ballet full circle, as the original fairytale is Chinese in origin. Back in the US, in 1996, I staged my Cinderella for Cincinnati Ballet, again produced by Alexander Vassiliev, and we brought this production also to the Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas, where it enjoyed many years of performances. That's where I first met Racheal and Zeb Nole ----- who will dance it for us here at Ballet Idaho. When Vassiliev's physical scenery and costumes had pretty much been worn out, we made yet another productcion of the ballet, this time by A. Christina Giannini, and we set this one at the time of Jane Austen, in turn of the 19th century England. This is the production that will come to Ballet Idaho later this season, in February at the Morrison Center. No one is more surprised than me how long my relationship with Cinderella has gone on. And it shows no signs of waning! -Peter Anastos

Chiropractor Sets it Straight for Ballet Idaho Dancers

There are ballet dancers and there are doctors, but there are very few doctors who have danced with the New York City Ballet. Afshin Mofid is one of them. Mofid, the only chiropractor in the Northwest with a professional dance background, runs Mofid Clinic of Chiropractic of Boise, the official chiropractic clinic of Ballet Idaho. Dr. Mofid also teaches the company dancers from time to time. Drawing from his chiropractic training and storied ballet career, Dr. Mofid developed a wellness and injury prevention program for Ballet Idaho that’s based on the clinical knowledge of a doctor and a dancers’ understanding of the specific strains ballet puts on the body. “The dancers have never been to a doctor who could teach a ballet class,” Dr. Mofid says. “I can look at them as a dancer, but at the same time, I’m looking at the quality of their movement, imbalances and muscle proportions as a doctor.” Born in Iran to a family of artists, poets and writers, Dr. Mofid started his ballet training at the age of 9. His star rose quickly; by 16, he had moved to New York City to finish high school and practice in open ballet classes. A year later, he was dancing with the New York City Ballet’s School of American Ballet founded by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Dr. Mofid was soon chosen personally by Balanchine to join the company, where he was part of the last generation of dancers to work with the legendary ballet pioneer and Jerome Robbins. From 1980 to 1986, Dr. Mofid danced leads in several productions, including La Valse, Nutcracker and Afternoon of a Faun, earning extensive critical acclaim from The New York Times and others. Newsweek magazine once declared him one of the “upcoming stars” of ballet. After retiring from ballet, Dr. Mofid lived briefly on a dude ranch in Montana, taught ballet at the University of Idaho, explored the outdoors in Sun Valley, worked as a waiter in Los Angeles, taught ballet at UC Irvine and enrolled in college. This twisting and turning path ultimately led to chiropractic, which was a natural transition from ballet for Dr. Mofid. For professionals and amateurs alike, dancing takes a rigorous toll on the body, and recurring knee and back pain had led to interruptions in Dr. Mofid’s rehearsal and performance schedule. It wasn’t until he visited a chiropractor that he found relief. Chiropractic is a health care discipline that emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery. The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between body structure (primarily the spine) and function (the nervous system). The malfunction of the nervous system can lead to serious health issues, and chiropractic techniques concentrate on this area of the body to preserve and restore overall health. The wellness program Dr. Mofid developed for Ballet Idaho uses a specific set of exercises designed to identify weaknesses in the dancers’ structure, align their bodies, optimize muscle reaction and identify technical flaws that could lead to injures. Dr. Mofid met individually with each dancer to assess their technique, body proportions and strength, and then developed the program based on the data he collected and his dual understanding of the body as a dancer and chiropractor. “The dancers know that I know exactly what they’re going through, what they’re talking about,” Dr. Mofid says. “That’s a huge plus with any patient.” The exercises are task-specific in nature, as dancers’ bodies are not designed for endurance training such as long-distance running. “Dancers are like boxers — it’s more of a sprint than a marathon,” Dr. Mofid says. “They don’t have to sustain the movements. If we can make sure their bodies are aligned and functioning ideally, they can perform to the best of their abilities. Even if they’re not in pain, a misalignment of the spine can cause a delay in muscle reaction and affect their performance.” Dr. Mofid’s program has paid huge dividends for Ballet Idaho, insuring career longevity for the dancers and saving the company money. For his own practice, working with the dancers has helped refine Dr. Mofid’s skills and allowed him to better care for his patients. “The most obvious result is, if someone is starting to get injured, we get to it immediately,” he says. “These dancers, a lot of them are just starting their careers. If we can prevent these injuries, it will help them enjoy a long and healthy career.” Mofid Clinic of Chiropractic is located at 880 N. Curtis Road in Boise, across from Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. For more information, call 208.323.1810 or email mofidclinic@yahoo.com.

Bus call for the tour to Billings

Bus call for the tour to Billings, Montana, was for 6:30 a. m. for a 7 a. m. departure. I unlocked the Annex building as the trickle of cold, sleepy dancers began. Someone decided to start a pot of coffee for the road. The dancers huddled in the office reminded me of hovering over a campfire for warmth. Michael experimented in ways to provide hot turkey and stuffing during the bus ride. James came on the bus with his camping backpack and survival gear. It was only a five day roundtrip, and with the supplies and experience gathered on the bus, I felt confident we were prepared to survive not only the weekend, but even an accident stranding us in the mountains along the way. Some dancers slept on the bus; others read or played cards. Preparation for a tour usually entails packing and sleep. Rest and nutrition are important for dancers, and more so when traveling. The conversations and laughter echoing around the bus were just one demonstration of the camaraderie felt among the dancers. In many ways, we are a family. The scenery en route to Billings was incredible. I’m a southern girl, raised in the bayou, so snowy, forested mountains are still awe inspiring for me. I think the winter wonderland scenery helped keep everyone in the holiday spirit, even without our families. Dancers become accustomed to traveling, whether touring with a company or searching for a job, and on this trip, the serene beauty of nature helped keep our spirits balanced. The hotel graciously had a late Thanksgiving meal ready for us Thursday evening after we arrived. The plates were loaded with food, which is always a happy sight to hungry, travel weary dancers. We all grew up with different family traditions and expectations for the feast, and sharing this meal together brought a sharing of stories about home for the holidays. The stuffing and pie weren’t bad either! Our first interaction with the young dancers in Billings was a walk through rehearsal at the local YWCA, where some of the young dancers take classes. The dance students were well rehearsed, but some seemed a little timid around the professionals. Friday evening was a technical and dress rehearsal with the orchestra. For most of the company, the Alberta Bair Theater was a new venue. A large stress of tour lies primarily in the unknown of a different theater and orchestra. In this instance, however, the Morrison and Special Events Center stages are still relatively new to most of the company. I haven’t really had a ‘home’ theater in years, though some are more familiar that others. There was an added stress in this tour in that our technical and dress rehearsals in Billings were our first for this year’s production. When the snow fell on stage during the snow scene, it was our first experience dancing in the flurries, or blizzard depending on where we were on the stage. I ended the scene under one of the larger ‘snow falls’ and am still finding flakes in my dance bag. It is a pleasure and a treat to share our company and our dancing with others. I enjoy the excitement of touring, occasionally, but also appreciate that Ballet Idaho is a resident company to Boise, and not always on the move. I am now accustomed to living away from my parents and brothers, but not to leaving my husband behind. The entire Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain region is new to me, and I hope to see more, just not away from my new home in Boise for too long. I wanted to thank our Board of Directors for helping to provide Thanksgiving dinner, and of course to the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale for inviting Ballet Idaho. I must also thank Betty Loos and Jana Stockton from the School of Classical Ballet in Billings for rehearsing and providing such wonderful children for our production of The Nutcracker. Ballet gives us an opportunity to share our gifts and our souls with otherwise complete strangers in the audience, and sometimes on stage. One of the joys of The Nutcracker is that after a performance, no matter where, our fellow dancers and stage hands are no longer strangers. -Sarah Ellis, Ballet Idaho Company Dancer

The Nutracker children shine!

What an amazing Nutcracker year this has been! Alex Ossadnik and I started on September 12 in Las Vegas, teaching the children's parts to an entirely new group of kids. The Nevada Ballet Theatre will dance our production right after we finish in Boise. Then we went on to Billings, Montana, where we taught a completely different group of kids their parts in Nutcracker. They will be dancing with our company over the Thanksgiving weekend in Billings. Finally, we taught our own kids here in the Treasure Valley their Nutcracker parts. It was a huge difference from last year, when the production was brand new. Lots of our children were returning to Nutcracker, some even in their old parts. But it's nice to see kids dance a mouse one year, then a party child the next, then perhaps the Garland Dance. Watching their progress as they grow into ever-more difficult parts is one of the greatest rewards a teacher can have --- and our students from Ballet Idaho Academy are shining this year! One of the most gratifying things is to see Brenna Houk and Cristina Zimmerman, who will both be dancing Clara this year. They are wonderful students, serious, concentrated, passionate about their work and committed to improvement on every level. They have grown in our school over the years and, hopefully, will continue their remarkable stories. Sebastian Houk, Brenna's brother, is making his debut this year as Fritz. He is a terrific kid, a joy for the teachers and an inspiration to any young man who might think about dancing. Sebastian brings every ounce of his talent, work-ethic and good attitude to his studies. Nutcracker has always been, and should always be, about the children. We are proud of all the hard-working and dedicated student dancers who join us each year in making this Holiday event so memorable. Learning and performing a part in the Nutcracker, like studying dancing at Ballet Idaho Academy, provides a foundation for skills needed in life --- cooperation, dedication, hard work, meeting challenges and gaining confidence. I'd like to thank all the parents who have shown such positive goals for their children and with whom we will share the joy and pride of our upcoming performances of Nutcracker. [flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157622796526929"]
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