Local News Archive
Print Issue: December 17, 1998
Young Catholics Dance In Christmas Ballets
BY PRISCILLA GREEAR
ATLANTA--Young Catholic dancers are performing in various renditions of The Nutcracker in December.
The Atlanta Ballets Nutcracker featuring professional and student dancers at the Fox Theatre through Dec. 27 was choreographed by artistic director John McFall. Charlotte Blanchard, 17, will dance in her ninth Nutcracker in the corps of snowflakes in Act I and in the corps of flowers in Act II. Leigh Rogers, 13, will perform for her second year as one of four cast members playing Nicolas, the mischievous brother of the central character Marya.
Set in Russia in the 1850s, the Atlanta Ballet Nutcracker tells the story of how young Marya receives a toy nutcracker which she dreams is transformed into a young man who battles against peasant-mice to protect her. She becomes a ballerina and the nutcracker a prince who escorts her to an enchanted land.
Blanchard, a parishioner at the Church of St. Ann in Marietta who has danced since she was five, has studied with the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education for two years. The young performer said she particularly enjoys dancing as a snowflake in an ice blue costume with company members. The role requires more quick and complicated movements than the flower dance which is a slower and more flowing waltz, she said.
Blanchard said she is challenged to dance with more feeling in The Nutcracker than in ballet classes.
(You try) to dance with your whole entire body, down to your eyelashes and fingernails. Everything has to dance, she said. For me it feels like such an honor to dance with all the company members because theyre all so beautiful and we look up to them.
Rogers, a member of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta who has studied with the Centre for Dance Education for two years, said her naughty character steals a rat puppet toy which he uses to chase Marya in Act I and to break his sisters nutcracker.
I just like bugging my sister a lot. Im trouble right from the start, she said. Its a lot of fun. Being a brat is not really my personality so its fun to change my personality.
She said that she feels more confident and free in the role this year, improvising movements in a few places, yet that she must work to move on stage at the right pace.
In addition to the Atlanta Ballet production, the Rotaru International Childrens Ballet of Norcross will present The Nutcracker, choreographed and directed by Pavel Rotaru, Dec. 18-20 at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts with music by the Rialto Symphony Orchestra.
Erin McHugh, a parishioner at the Church of St. Benedict, Duluth, who was one of 32 American dancers to compete this summer at the International Ballet Competition, will dance for the second year the lead female role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the cast of over 100 young Rotaru dancers. McHugh has studied dance since the age of three and at the Rotaru school for four years.
In the Rotaru Nutcracker the character Clara visits a toy shop with dancing toys and dolls where she receives a nutcracker which she takes home. In this version, Clara also dreams that the nutcracker saves her from mice before transporting her to the lands of snow and sweets. McHugh, 18, said she loves the Christmas magic of the performance which she had seen for many years before dancing in it. I love the music. Tchaikovskys music is beautiful. Its got a lot of Christmas magic to it, she said.
A student at Georgia Tech, she has been rehearsing six days a week on average since October and said she has been challenged to balance time for school work with rehearsals.
For tickets for the Atlanta Ballet production call (404) 817-8700 and for the Rotaru performance call (404) 651-4727.