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Cincinnati Ballet holds Young Performer Auditions for ‘The Nutcracker’


By Ashley Kruger

Young performer auditions for Frisch’s Big Boy Presents The Nutcracker will take place throughout the day Saturday, August 19 and call back auditions Sunday, August 20 at The Cincinnati Ballet Center, located at 1555 Central Parkway. Now in its 43rd annual production, the timeless holiday tradition runs December 14 through 24 at the newly renovated and historic Music Hall.

Cincinnati Ballet’s The Nutcracker will include approximately 70 young dancers this season. Eligible dancers between the ages of eight and 18 are invited to audition for various roles. Children will be auditioned for roles within their size range. Parts available include Clara, Poodle, Fritz, Party Kids, Baby Mice, Snowballs, Soldiers, Cupcakes, and Chicks.

Auditions begin at 10 am for students currently enrolled in Cincinnati Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Academy, followed by open audition for gymnasts at 2:30 pm and open audition for all roles beginning at 4 pm. Young ladies are asked to wear a leotard, tights and ballet slippers. Young men should wear a t-shirt, tights and ballet slippers. Any young person auditioning for The Nutcracker must be available for all of the rehearsals and performances to be eligible to audition.  Visit https://www.cballet.org/nutcracker-young-performers-auditions-2017/ for additional details, height requirements, audition fees, and registration times.

The Nutcracker features the beloved holiday story of Clara, a little girl who embarks on a fantastical journey with her Nutcracker Prince through the Land of Sweets, meeting colorful and exciting characters along the way. The Cincinnati holiday favorite was re-envisioned in 2011, with new sets by John Ezell, costumes by Carrie Robbins, lighting by Trad A Burns and choreography by Artistic Director Victoria Morgan.


Cincinnati Ballet
Choreography: Victoria Morgan
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, performed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Carmon DeLeone

WHAT:  Frisch’s Big Boy Presents The Nutcracker

Thursday, December 14 – 7:30 pm
Friday, December 15 – 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 16 – 2:00 pm
Saturday, December 16 – 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 17 – 1:00 pm
Sunday, December 17 – 6:30 pm
Tuesday, December 19 – 7:30 pm
Wednesday, December 20 – 7:30 pm
Thursday, December 21 – 7:30 pm
Friday, December 22 – 2:00 pm
Friday, December 22 – 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 23 – 2:00 pm
Saturday, December 23 – 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 24 – 1:00 pm

Music Hall
1241 Elm St.
Cincinnati, Ohio  45202
(513) 621-5219

About Cincinnati Ballet

Since 1963, Cincinnati Ballet has been the cornerstone professional ballet company of the region, presenting a bold and adventurous array of classical, full-length ballets and contemporary works, regularly with live orchestral accompaniment. Under the artistic direction of Victoria Morgan, Cincinnati Ballet has become a creative force within the larger dance community, commissioning world premiere works and exploring unique collaborations with artists as diverse as Grammy winning guitarist Peter Frampton and popular, Ohio-based band Over the Rhine. With a mission to inspire hope and joy in our community and beyond through the power and passion of dance, Cincinnati Ballet reaches beyond the stage in programs that allow every person in the region to be part of the continued evolution of dance. To that end, Cincinnati Ballet presents exhilarating performances, extensive education outreach programs and offers top level professional ballet training at Cincinnati Ballet Otto M. Budig Academy


Cincinnati Ballet 2017-2018 Season Sponsors: ArtsWave, Rhonda & Larry Sheakley, PNC Bank, Louise Dieterle Nippert Musical Arts Fund, Ohio Arts Council, Mercy Health, Frisch’s Big Boy, Austin E. Knowlton Foundation, The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation



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Lauper, Liang, Balanchine and Bowie: BalletMet’s ‘Breaking Ballet’ an Entertaining Ride

BalletMet dancers in James Kudelka's

BalletMet dancers in James Kudelka’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Photo by Jennifer Zmuda.

BalletMet – Breaking Ballet
Capitol Theatre
Columbus, Ohio
October 2, 2015

Reviewed by Steve Sucato

To open its 2015-2016 season, BalletMet artistic director Edwaard Liang put together a more populist program of ballet works to further dispel the stereotype that ballet is all raised pinkies and tutus appealing only to the stuffed shirt crowd. Anyone who frequents BalletMet’s programs probably already knows that ballet can come in a myriad of forms. Breaking Ballet, October 2-10 at the Riffe Center’s Capitol Theatre in Columbus, set about proving that point from the get go with the world-premiere of James Kudelka’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun set to the music of 1980’s pop icon Cyndi Lauper.

Kudelka, a former artistic director of The National Ballet of Canada, has over the past decade created several works for BalletMet. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun is the latest in a series that includes 2010’s The Man in Black and last season’s Real Life in which Kudelka taps into folk dance patterning to help create a distinct movement language that permeates each ballet.

Decked out in 80’s-flavored costumes (sans the leg warmers and headbands) courtesy of costume designer Erin E. Rollins, the ballet bopped through a suite of Lauper hits.

BalletMet dancers in James Kudelka's

BalletMet dancers in James Kudelka’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Photo by Jennifer Zmuda.

Capturing a music video vibe, Kudelka’s choreography had the dancers repeating exaggerated hip sways, sideways waddles and arms-on-shoulders Greek folk dance-like circle dances.

Dancing to Lauper’s “True Colors,” BalletMet’s Karen Wing and Austin Finley slowly swayed back and forth, shifting their feet with Wing locked on Finley with and intense gaze during the seductive duet. Then dancers Jessica Brown, Arielle Friedman, Samantha Lewis, Caitlin Valentine-Ellis and Carly Wheaton formed a horizontal line across the stage as a bank of low hanging stage lights swiveled toward and away from the audience simulating bright vehicle head and tail lights. The women shimmied, jogged and grooved to Lauper’s catchy tune “I Drove All Night.”

Following two splendidly danced pas de deuxs – Adrienne Benz and Gabriel Gaffney Smith to “The World is Stone” and Emily Gotschall and Andres Estevez to “All Through the Night” –   and an impassioned solo by Benz to “I’m Going to be Strong” that reflected each song’s lyrics, the ballet concluded with the cast reprising parts of the ballet to the song “Money Changes Everything.”

BalletMet's Olivia Clark (center) and dancers in James Kudelka's

BalletMet’s Olivia Clark (center) and dancers in James Kudelka’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Photo by Jennifer Zmuda.

A special encore to “Who Let in the Rain” followed which honored retiring dancer Olivia Clark. Matched with the ballet’s five male dancers, Clark was smooth and elegant in the Vegas-style dance number.

BalletMet's Caitlin Valentine-Ellis and Gabriel Gaffney Smith in Edwaard Liang's

BalletMet’s Caitlin Valentine-Ellis and Gabriel Gaffney Smith in Edwaard Liang’s “Distant Cries.” Photo by Jennifer Zmuda.

BalletMet's Caitlin Valentine-Ellis and Gabriel Gaffney Smith in Edwaard Liang's

BalletMet’s Caitlin Valentine-Ellis and Gabriel Gaffney Smith in Edwaard Liang’s “Distant Cries.” Photo by Jennifer Zmuda.

Originally set on former New York City Ballet stars Wendy Whelan and Peter Boal, Liang’s Distant Cries (2005) was a heartfelt pas de deux about longing.  Petite company star Valentine-Ellis dancing to the music of Tomaso Albinoni was thoughtful and vulnerable in appearing to conjure up the memory of perhaps an erstwhile lover portrayed by Smith. Smith appeared out of shadow to partner the supple Valentine-Ellis in a sequence of high bended lifts, sharp turns and desperate embraces. Doubt as to the pair’s true relationship came in the form of Valentine-Ellis more than once, holding her face in her hands as if to hide her emotions. The memorable pas de deux concluded with Smith fading back into the darkness and Valentine-Ellis directing a pained silent cry toward the audience.

BalletMet's Miguel Anaya (center ) and company in George Balanchine's

BalletMet’s Miguel Anaya (center ) and company in George Balanchine’s “Allegro Brilliante.” Photo by Jennifer Zmuda.

BalletMet dancers in George Balanchine's

BalletMet dancers in George Balanchine’s “Allegro Brilliante.” Photo by Jennifer Zmuda.

Like the Beatles’ music, the ballets of George Balanchine seem to never get old in people’s hearts. That held true once again as the Oct. 2 audience ate-up BalletMet’s dancers’ performance of the Balanchine masterwork Allegro Brilliante (1956). Led by first year company member and former Ballet Nacional de Cuba soloist Miguel Anaya, the company gave a solid performance of the vibrant classical work. Anaya is a godsend to the company’s classical repertory. His eye-popping technical prowess instantly raises the bar on what audiences can expect from the company in classical works.

BalletMet dancers in Edwaard Liang's

BalletMet dancers in Edwaard Liang’s “Dancing in the Street.” Photo by Jennifer Zmuda.

BalletMet dancers in Edwaard Liang's

BalletMet dancers in Edwaard Liang’s “Dancing in the Street.” Photo by Jennifer Zmuda.

Breaking Ballet concluded with a similar vibe to how it began with the world-premiere of Liang’s Dancing in the Street. Originally supposed to be an all David Bowie hit music driven ballet, issues with song rights cut that back to a few obscure early Bowie tracks plus the Mick Jagger/Bowie hit the ballet was titled after. That left the door open for Liang to augment the ballet’s score with original music (partially played live by cellist Marc Moskovitz and violinist Katherine McLin) by multi-talented company member Smith. Smith also danced the ballet’s lead role, a being in all white with superpowers. Specter? Angel? The only thing for sure was Smith’s character liked to party and was looking for love. Enter new company member Grace Ann-Powers in a flattering green dress as Smith’s character’s love interest. The former dancer with Montreal’s La La La Human Steps was wonderfully compelling and is one to watch in future productions.

Overall Dancing in the Street was a lark of a ballet, full of crowd-pleasing dancing and a fitting end to a production that placed a premium on fun.

Breaking Ballet continues 7:30 p.m., Thursday, October 8 and 8 p.m., Friday, October 9 and 10. Riffe Center’s Capitol Theatre, 77 S. High Street, Columbus. $29-69. (614) 460-7211 or balletmet.org. 

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‘Beautiful Struggle’ to explore themes of race, gender and privilege

Photo by Nick Fancher.

Photo by Nick Fancher.

By Steve Sucato

The last time Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project visited the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, a dancer’s injury forced the company to alter its program and present a work-in-progress showing of Beautiful Struggle. This weekend, the contemporary dance company based in Columbus, Ohio, and Burkina Faso returns with the completed version of this thought-provoking dance-theater work. Beautiful Struggle “reflects on questions of belonging … visibility and invisibility, which are themes often revisited when delving into the slippery territories of race, gender and privilege,” says choreographer/director Esther Baker-Tarpaga. Set to an eclectic soundscape including West African rhythms played live, the 45-minute production combines highly physical postmodern, hip-hop and traditional West African dance styles with bold costuming and props such as a wooden table that stands in for a slave ship and a slave-auction block. Woven throughout are spoken-word recordings of anti-racism activist Tim Wise. Says Baker-Tarpaga: “I would like audiences to think about the struggle of living in a country that was founded upon slavery and how this resonates in contemporary times.”

Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project presents Beautiful Struggle, 8 p.m. Fri., Feb. 21, and 8 p.m. Sat., Feb. 22. 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $15-25. 412-363-3000 or www.kelly-strayhorn.org

This article first appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper on February 19, 2014. Copyright Steve Sucato.

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