From New York to Los Alamos: Guest artists to perform in DALA’s ‘Nutcracker’

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By Special to the Monitor

Mark the calendar for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Duane Smith Auditorium in Los Alamos. Dance Arts Los Alamos (DALA) is preparing to present its biggest and best “Nutcracker” yet.  This year’s 14th annual show will dazzle audiences as it welcomes three rising stars from the regional and national ballet worlds.

Andrew Silks should be familiar to many in Los Alamos. A Los Alamos native, Silks has danced in past productions of “The Nutcracker” in roles including Fritz, Soldier Doll, Rat Lieutenant, Nutcracker Prince and the Cavalier. Now 19-years-old and training full-time in New York City with the Ellison Ballet in the professional training program, Silks began his dance training with DALA at age 10.  He also trained locally at Moving People Dance in Santa Fe and during summer programs at Youth America Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and the Kirov Academy. In 2008, Silks left Los Alamos to pursue training on a full scholarship at the Washington Ballet, before moving to the Boston Ballet and then to New York City to train with Edward Ellison.

“I am so excited to come back and dance in my hometown,” Silks said. “I have grown up performing on this stage (at the Duane Smith) and it’s where I feel most comfortable dancing.”

Partnering Silks in the role of the Sugarplum Fairy is 18-year-old Brittney Feit. Feit grew up in Long Island, where she started dancing with Lumiere Ballet at age 11. She began her training at Ellison Ballet in the professional training program in New York at the age of 16.  Her previous classical solo roles include the Sugarplum Fairy, Lisse in “La Fille Mal Gardée” and Aurora in “Sleeping Beauty.” She has also performed original choreography in the roles of Alice in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Gretel in “Hansel and Gretel” and the Innocent in “Danse Macabre.” This will be Feit’s first trip to New Mexico.  

“I’ve never been to New Mexico and I love to experience new places and environments,” she commented.

Edward Ellison, instructor to Silks and Feit, said he is also happy that two of his students have been given this opportunity to perform the leading roles in “The Nutcracker.”

“The Grand Pas de Deux in Act II is a wonderful test of technical skill, stamina, classical style and artistry, even for seasoned professionals,” Ellison said. “Andrew and Brittney are advanced students, they are certainly at the level to take on this challenge and I believe their ability and talent will shine brightly.  Brittney, who possesses a bird-like lightness and radiant beauty and Andrew, with his dashing good looks and beautiful classical line, are the perfect candidates for the Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier. Although this is their first time dancing together, I predict they will have a special magic together which will be felt by all in attendance.”  

Silks and Ms. Feit will interpret the original choreography for the Grand Pas de Deux by Marius Petipa, staged by Ellison.

DALA is pleased to continue its collaboration with the National Dance Institute of New Mexico (NDI-NM) in Santa Fe.  The National Dance Institute was founded in 1976 in New York City and NDI-NM was established in 1994. The Institute now serves children and families all over New Mexico. Guest artist Jacob Maestas of NDI-NM will appear in the role of the Nutcracker Prince.  Maestas, 14, has been a student at NDI for four years.

DALA’s executive director Valerie Silks approached Donna Scheer, NDI-NM’s director, with the intent of inviting a student to dance the role of the Nutcracker Prince.  Maestas said he could hardly believe he had been chosen. “I was speechless,” he recalled. “I’m so excited to be dancing in my first ‘Nutcracker’ and I’m really looking forward to seeing the whole show come together.”  This will be Maestas’ debut on the Los Alamos stage.

Immediately following the matinee performance on Saturday, a photographer will be available to take pictures of audience members with the Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier on the set.  Details and registration information will be available on the DALA Web site (www.dance  artslosalamos.org) beginning Monday.  “The Nutcracker” will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for seniors and students and $8 for children age 12 and younger; they are on sale now at CB Fox, Smith’s Food and Drug in White Rock, from the DALA studio and can also be purchased on the door.  For more information, visit the Web site or call 672-9462.