‘The Nutcracker’ Inland Pacific Ballet’s Spectacular with over 80 dancers returns to Claremont, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside

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Inland Pacific Ballet Presents

The Nutcracker

A Holiday Tradition Returns to the Inland Empire 
Performances in three theaters between December 9 – December 23, 2017
Claremont, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside

 Enjoy a treasured holiday tradition with family and friends at Southern California’s most spectacular production of The Nutcracker from critically acclaimed Inland Pacific Ballet. The Nutcracker comes to life in this magnificent ballet comprised of beautiful sets, dazzling costumes, and more than 80 dancers on stage with a total of 10 performances from December 9-23 at three theatres – Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College in ClaremontLewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga, and the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside. This annual holiday show tells the story of a young girl named Clara who receives a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve and sets out on a wondrous journey to the Land of the Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Featuring toy soldiers, life-sized dancing dolls, falling snow, a fantastic dream with battling mice, dancing snowflakes, waltzing flowers, new Gingerbread characters in an updated choreographed Mother Ginger scene, Tchaikovsky’s classic score, and the delightful Sugar Plum Fairy that stirs the imagination. Young audience members can look forward to meeting and greeting the cast after the performance for photos and autographs.

Returning Principal Dancers include Allynne Noelle as the Sugar Plum Fairy with Thomas Garrett and Evan Swenson as the Cavalier, Cameron Schwanz as Arabian, Jonathan Sharp as Drosselmeyer, and Reece Taylor as Mouse King and Arabian. Principal Character Artist Brandon J will perform as Mouse King and Dragon Master. Soloists Michael Milligan will dance the roles of Dr. Stahlbaum and Dragon Master with Hannah Leah Oeding as Snow Queen and Spanish, and Chanel Tekin as Arabian and Spanish.

New Principal Dancers include Madison Morris, a southern California native recently returned from dancing with Houston Ballet, who with her warm and expansive performing style will grace the roles of Dew Drop, Snow Queen and Mrs. Stahlbaum. Gracie Holway, a tall, exquisite, dancer who hails from Michigan will dance the Sugar Plum Fairy, among other roles, and Jessica Gadzinski, whose elegance and inner passion make her a perfect interpreter for the Arabian Princess, and Dew Drop roles.

IPB’s two new soloists are Kelsey Dorr from Lake Forest in Orange County, who among other roles will dance a Rose in Waltz of the Flowers, and Lawrence Chen, a brilliant young artist from Chino Hills who is also currently pursuing his interest in mathematics at Pomona College. With his power, athleticism and grace, Lawrence will be dancing The Nutcracker Prince, the Spanish, Russian, and the Soldier Doll.

“We are always excited to share our beautiful production of the Nutcracker with loyal fans and new audiences,” states Artistic Director Victoria Koenig, “and this year we are thrilled to introduce five outstanding new dancers who have just joined the Company. You don’t want to miss these inspiring dancers who all bring fresh and unique qualities to their roles. Their enthusiasm is infectious!”

The Nutcracker has become the most popular ballet of our times. It was first presented in 1892 at the Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. The ballet was an adaptation of the 1816 story by E. T. A. Hoffman, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The Nutcracker was choreographed by Lev Ivanov with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Marius Petipa, the reigning choreographer at the Maryinsky, fell ill, so the job passed to Ivanov. Tchaikovsky only reluctantly accepted the commission to compose the score which, when completed, he considered “infinitely worse than ‘Sleeping Beauty’.” At the premiere, the ballet was deemed a complete failure. More than 60 years and many productions would pass before The Nutcracker would become a staple of the repertoire in ballet companies around the world and one of the universal traditions of the holiday season.

Children’s Tickets for IPB’s The Nutcracker start at $23, senior tickets start at $38 and adult tickets start at $41 with premium seats at $59. Performances take place from December 9/10 at 2pm and December 9 at 7:30 pm at Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College in Claremont; December 15/16 at 7:30 pm and December 16/17 at 2 pm at Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga; and December 22/23 at 7:30 pm and December 23 at 2 pm at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside.

Inland Pacific Ballet’s educational outreach program, “A Young Person’s Guide to the Ballet,” is back this season with five additional abbreviated performances of The Nutcracker for PreK-12 students from local area schools that include a talk and demonstration showing the magic of live theater and how dancers tell a story without words. Students are encouraged to participate in simple movement activities in their seats and then view the lavish professional ballet performance, followed by a lively question and answer session. Teachers also have access to a free Study Guide to continue the experience back in the classroom with pre- and post-performance activities aligned through the California State Content Standards for Dance, California Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and the California English Language Development Standards. For many of these students, this will be the first time they get to experience live performance art, being in a theater, and learning about ballet. Information about outreach performances are available at IPBallet.org.

Inland Pacific Ballet, is a professional ballet company based in the Inland Empire region of Southern California. The Company is committed to producing exquisitely staged productions of full-length classic story ballets as well as presenting the best in contemporary choreography. Through creative marketing and an extensive Educational Outreach Program, Inland Pacific Ballet strives to introduce new audiences to the magic of ballet, and to make the experience more available and accessible to all. The Company is also committed to the nurturing of new talent and provides an essential training ground for serious young dancers

Over the past 23 years Inland Pacific Ballet’s Founders/Directors, Southern California natives Victoria Koenig and Kevin Frank Myers, have built Inland Pacific Ballet into the premier ballet company in the region, enjoying critical acclaim while performing the largest and most varied repertoire in the area. The Company’s repertoire includes such classics as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Les Sylphides, Graduation Ball and Swan Lake Act II. Full length classical masterpieces include Giselle, Coppélia and a lavish production of The Nutcracker. Contemporary classics include seminal works by the legendary George Balanchine including Serenade, Concerto Barocco and Who Cares? and a growing body of original work that includes creative adaptations of much loved stories such as The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and Dracula.

Victoria Koenig
 – co-founder and Artistic Director – is a native of Los Angeles where she trained with Carmelita Maracci, Kenneth Kreel, Tania Riaboushinska Lichine and Stanley Holden.  After many years as a professional dancer in such notable companies as the Feld Ballet, New York and extensive international travel as a guest artist and teacher for cultural institutions such as Taiwan’s National Institute of the Arts and Artemis Dance Concentrum in Amsterdam, she returned to Southern California and has become a shaping force in the region’s dance community.  In Los Angeles she co-founded the Los Angeles Chamber Ballet, a critically acclaimed contemporary ballet company known for its creativity and originality.  For eight years she was on the faculty of the Stanley Holden Dance Center where she taught the professional level class attended by local pros as well as visiting artists from companies around the world.  She also served for six years on the dance faculty of California State University, Long Beach.  Now a resident of Claremont, Victoria has brought her many years of professional experience to the Inland Valley as Co-Founder and Artistic Director of both the Inland Pacific Ballet and the Company’s official Academy, which provides unique training and performance opportunities for the region’s serious young dance artists.  She also serves the community as a grant review panelist for State and local arts agencies including the California Arts Council and the Los Angeles City Cultural Affairs Department.  Victoria is also a member of the dance faculty at Pomona College.

Kevin Frank Myers
 – co-founder and Co-Director – is a native of Riverside, California.  He danced with the Houston Ballet in solo roles in the classic repertoire including GiselleSwan LakeThe Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty and in work created on him by Houston Ballet’s renowned Artistic Director, Ben Stevenson.  Later as soloist with the Los Angeles Ballet, he danced principal roles in a variety of Balanchine ballets, including Tarantella and Jewels.  As a Co-Founder and Associate Director of Inland Pacific Ballet and of the Inland Pacific Ballet Academy, Kevin is fulfilling a dream of widening the opportunities for the young people of the Inland Empire to experience the art of ballet and providing local talent with the chance to pursue a career in the field.

Jonathan Sharp – Associate Director – was trained at the National Academy of the Arts and the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet. While on full scholarship at SAB, he was trained by master teachers Stanley Williams, Peter Martins, Andrea Kramarevsky, Suzanne Farrell, Alexandra Danilova, Suki Schorer, and Sean Lavery. After finishing his training there, he danced professionally with the Boston Ballet and the Pennsylvania Ballet. He was also a member of Stars of America Ballet (a touring group headlined by Robert La Fosse and Darci Kistler). He returned to NYC and appeared in the original casts of five Broadway shows: The Red Shoes, Carousel (1994 Tony winner for Best Revival), The Rocky Horror Show Live, The Dance of the Vampires and Fiddler on the Roof. He has also appeared on television as a contract player in the daytime drama Another World, as well as guest-starring on Law and Order and Gilmore Girls. Jonathan is a faculty member of Idyllwild Arts Academy and also teaches and directs all over Southern California. He is an ABT Certified Teacher for Primary to Level 5.

Credit: Inland Pacific Ballet.

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