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November 25, 2009 > Nutcracker magic for everyone

Nutcracker magic for everyone

By Emma Victoria G. Blanco

Ballet Petit is gearing up for its annual production of "The Nutcracker" at Chabot College of Performing Arts Center in Hayward on December 5 and 6. The fact that it will be Ballet Petit's 31st production is a testament to the influence and dedication of its Artistic Director, Peggy Peabody.

Passion and unceasing energy comes to mind when one speaks with Peabody, or "Miss Peggy," as she is lovingly referred to by her students. Her enthusiasm is infectious when she talks about Ballet Petit, her students, and Nutcracker shows of the past and future. "Last year's 30th celebration exceeded my hopes and expectations," she reminisced. "We had thirty alumni join us on stage for the Sunday show. That followed months of formal and informal reunions, rehearsals where we spent time remembering old times together, as well as a renewed our commitment for what we do here at Ballet Petit for our dancers. Some flew from across the country to be here. It was fabulous. I had no idea the depth of the impact Nutcracker had had on these dancers."

This past year, Ballet Pettit dancers have been awarded coveted positions in many special programs throughout the country. Nine dancers were accepted to American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensives and two dancers attended the Lines Ballet in San Francisco. Other students earned spots in special choreographic workshops and seminars throughout the country. "With a group of dancers as talented as this, our 31st Annual Nutcracker cast promises to be especially strong," Peabody proudly asserted.

Ballet Petit's Nutcracker is special and unique because all of the school's students dance in at least one of the three shows. Peabody believes that all dancers are capable of dancing and participating in their productions. "This is very important to us," she stated. "Ballet Petit's production of the Nutcracker has sustained itself over the decades by growing its dancers in a positive and nurturing environment where everyone has a place." Instead of holding auditions, Peabody and her artistic staff conduct a casting selection process. Over many meetings in the early fall, they discuss and look at a number of factors before making decisions. They consider last year's casting, as well as students' studio and stage performances and work ethics; essentially creating a "total picture of how [each] dancer works overall."

This year, the role of Clara will be shared by two dancers: Hilary Sanders and Corinna Sanding, both of Fremont. The graceful and artistically challenging role of Sugar Plum Fairy will be performed by local teens Lillian Kautz of Newark and Kimberly Grovers of Fremont.

Peabody cares for each of her students and is astutely attuned to their respective talents and skill level. She explained, "What we are doing here is not just 'teaching ballet.' We have raised a solid community of young artists, and that makes me very happy." She doesn't just talk the talk, she also walks the walk. Peabody is a role model, not only for her students but also for the community. Last year, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the Alameda County Commission on the Status of Women recognized Peabody's achievements and contributions and honored her with the prestigious "Women's Hall of Fame" award for Arts and Culture.

Ballet Petit prides itself for making The Nutcracker accessible to everyone, giving both its dancers and audiences the opportunity to enjoy this holiday ballet. "The Nutcracker is a tradition that can be, and should be, experienced by dancers of all levels. This is part of the magic of The Nutcracker," Peabody stated.

The Nutcracker
Performed by Ballet Petit
Saturday, December 5
2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday, December 6
7 p.m.

Chabot College Performing Arts Centre
25555 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward
(510) 324-4988 (Ballet Petit)

Admission: $20 adults, $16 children/seniors
Group discounts available for groups of 20 or more

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