Breathtaking sets, beautiful costumes, beloved music, and, of course, wonderful dancing—what’s not to love about The Nutcracker? Make the holiday season especially magical for the children in your lives with this dream ballet that bewitches with its Sugar Plum Fairy and her handsome Prince, dancing snowflakes, and toys that really do come alive when little Clara falls asleep under the Christmas tree.
The story is set in Vienna in the middle of the nineteenth century. Herr Silberhaus and his wife, along with their children, Clara and Fritz, celebrate the holiday festivities with friends and family. During this Christmas Eve night, the guests and their children rejoice in the magical Christmas atmosphere that Herr Drosselmeyer, Clara’s godfather, brings to the Silberhaus home. He fills the festivities with magical entertainment, dancing dolls, and toys for the children. Herr Drosselmeyer has a special surprise for Clara, a Nutcracker doll. Overjoyed, Clara dances with her new Nutcracker, but her jealous brother, Fritz, damages the Nutcracker. Herr Drosselmeyer fixes it with his magic powers, and after one final dance, the guests leave.
That night, Clara falls into a deep sleep but is woken by giant mice that menace and threaten her. Herr Drosselmeyer protects her and helps her escape. She finds herself back in the living room where, to her amazement, the Christmas tree grows to giant size, and she is in the midst of a huge battle between an army of tin soldiers and the mice. The Nutcracker doll comes to life and duels with the King Mouse. The Nutcracker ultimately rescues Clara from the King Mouse, whom she distracts by throwing her slipper, thus saving herself from his clutches. Herr Drosselmeyer takes Clara on the first part of a magical journey, the first stop of which is the Land of Snow, presided over by the Snow Queen and her Cavalier.
Herr Drosselmeyer then takes Clara to the Land of Sweets, where she is met by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her court of angels. Clara recounts her story of battle with the King Mouse. As a reward, the Sugar Plum Fairy performs her famous dance for Clara and invites her to stay and watch while she is entertained by the many Divertissements who inhabit her kingdom.
Michael Vernon started dancing at the Nesta Brooking School of Ballet in London before going on to study at the Royal Ballet School in London with such legendary teachers as Dame Ninette de Valois and Leonide Massine. He performed with the Royal Ballet, Royal Opera Ballet, and London Festival Ballet before coming to New York in 1976 to join the Eglevsky Ballet as ballet master and resident choreographer. He became artistic director of the Long Island-based company in 1989 and remained in that position until 1996.
Vernon choreographed numerous ballets for the Eglevsky Ballet, in addition to ballets for many other professional companies in the United States and worldwide, such as BalletMet of Columbus, Ohio, and North Carolina Dance Theatre. Mikhail Baryshnikov commissioned him to choreograph the successful pas de deux In a Country Garden for American Ballet Theatre (ABT). His solo S’Wonderful was danced by ABT principal Cynthia Harvey in the presence of President and Mrs. Reagan and shown nationwide on CBS television. He served as assistant choreographer on Ken Russell’s movie Valentino, starring Rudolph Nureyev and Leslie Caron.
Vernon taught at Steps on Broadway in New York City for many years, working with dancers from New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and many other high-profile companies. He is an integral part of the Manhattan Dance Project, which brings New York-style master classes to all regions of the United States. He has been involved with the Ballet Program of the Chautauqua Institution since 1996 and is the artistic advisor for the Ballet School of Stamford. He is permanent guest teacher at the Manhattan Youth Ballet and has a long association with Ballet Hawaii.
Vernon has been a company teacher for American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He has guest taught in companies all over the world, including West Australian Ballet, National Ballet of China, Hong Kong Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Berlin Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, and the Norwegian National Ballet. He has been a guest teacher for The Juilliard School and taught for many years at The Ailey School. He has served on the panel of judges for the Youth of America Grand Prix regional semifinals. For Indiana University, Vernon has choreographed Endless Night, Jeux, Spectre de la Rose, and Cathedral, and has staged and provided additional choreography for the full-length classics Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty. He has choreographed for many IU Opera Theater productions, such as Faust and the world premiere of Vincent. His production of The Nutcracker has become one of the best attended events at the Jacobs School of Music.
Music director of the Oviedo Philharmonic (OFIL) in Spain since 2011, Marzio Conti has earned recognition and the acclaim of audiences and critics for his achievements in guiding the orchestra to new artistic heights. He has earned numerous awards and has been named a juror for the arts prize of the prestigious Premios Asturias. This season brought a major critical success with a recording of the complete symphonic works of Saint-Saens for Warner Classic. This year, he will record the music of De Falla and Turina for Decca. At the community level, Conti has earned
praise for his special projects at local centers and for a joint venture with the University of Oviedo to offer films with music, services for families, musical projects related to sports, and outdoor summer events designed to spotlight historic parts of the city.
Since his arrival in Oviedo, the symphonic season of OFIL has established a standard of excellence for the musical world of Spain, presenting notable artists such as Midori, Christian Zimermann, Gregory Kunde, Elina Garanca, Elisso Vissaladze, Sabine Mayer, Cecilia Bartoli, Natalia Gutman, Rudolf Buchbinder, Katia and Marielle Lebeque, and Grigory Sokolov, as well as hosting the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Salonen), St. Petersburg Philharmonic (Gergiev), Gothenburg Symphony (Dudamel), and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (Gardiner).
Conti has appeared as a guest conductor in Italy with the Rome Opera, Maggio Musicale of Florence, Teatro Regio di Torino, Teatro Comunale of Bologna, Teatro Massimo of Palermo, Teatro La Fenice of Venice, Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana, Teatro Donizetti Bergamo, Teatro di Ravenna, Teatro di Bolzano, Teatro del Giglio di Lucca, Teatro Bellini Catania, Teatro Verdi Pisa, Teatro Comunale di Livorno, Orchestra Regionale Toscana, Orchestra Haydn, and Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto. In Spain, he has conducted the Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid, Teatro de la Zarzuela, Orquesta Sinfonica de Bilbao, Orquesta de Tenerife, Orquesta de Extremadura, Orquesta de la Gran Canaria, Orquesta de las Baleares, Teatro Arriaga Bilbao, and Orquesta de Navarra. In Germany, he has conducted at the Dortmund Staatsoper, Saarbrücken Staatsoper, Dessau Stadtsoper, Monchegladbach Staatsoper, and Brandemburger Symphoniker. In France, he has conducted the Orchestra Regional de Cannes e de la Cote d’Azur, Orchestre da La Picardie, Opera de Marseille, and Orchestre d’Avignon.
Elsewhere, he has conducted the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Korean National Symphony Orchestra and Pusan Philharmonic (Korea), National State Orchestra of Athens, Teatro del Bicentenario (Mexico), Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica, Opera de Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Orquesta Sinfonica de Porto and Orquesta Metropolitana de Lisboa (Portugal), and the Haifa Symphony Orchestra (Israel).
He has conducted his orchestras at important European venues such as The Auditorio Nacional de Madrid, Queen Elisabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, Palau de la Musica de Barcelona, Parco della Musica Rome, Teatro Megaron Athens, Finlandiatalon Helsinky, Musikalle Hamburg, Munich Theatre (Germany), and King David Auditorium Tel Aviv.
Other notable soloists with whom he has collaborated include Barbara Hendricks, Misha Maisky, Lynn Harrell, Gary Hoffman, Renato Bruson, Leo Nucci, Jean Pierre Rampal, Maurice Andre, Maurice Bourgue, Max Chamaiou, Brigitte Engerer, and Javier De Maistre, dancers and choreographers Carla Fracci, Yuri Grigorovich, Patrice Bart, Roland Petit, Frederic Flamand, and Jean-Christophe Maillot, and directors such as Calisto Bieto, Emilio Sagi, the Fura del Baus, Lindsey Kemp, Ugo Gregoretti, and Julia Pevzner.
Formerly one of his generation’s leading exponents of the flute, following a debut at the Salzburg Festival with I Soloist Veneti at the age of 20, Conti performed with major orchestras and made numerous recordings through the middle 1990s, after which he devoted himself full time to conducting. A student of Piero Beluggi, Conti quickly received engagements as a permanent director of various Italian and foreign orchestras. He conducts both opera and the symphonic repertoire, and collaborates with leading international dance companies as well as major soloists.
From 2004 to 2010, Conti served as artistic director of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Sanremo, taking over the orchestra at a time of economic crisis. He raised funds, established connections with other institutions, and attracted a new, younger audience. He raised the orchestra’s profile and quality enough to bring it to the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, secure a recording contract with Naxos and a residency at the Nice Summer Festival—home of the prestigious international summer academy, where he had previously held the chair of flute studies after Jean-Pierre Rampal and Alain Marion. Another notable achievement in Sanremo was his creation of the musical West Side Story, performed exclusively with high school students who had never made music. Prepared during the school year, the work was a great success with audiences and critics, and instrumental in adding new subscribers to the orchestra.
From 2003 until 2008, Conti was music director of the Teatro di Tradizione per l’Opera Italiana of Chieti. He led a series of recordings in collaboration with Naxos focused on Italian opera, including Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia and Donizetti’s La Figlia del Reggimento. Chieti’s theater participated in numerous television programs and the most important opera broadcasts nationwide. It also created a network of partnerships with other Italian theaters, including those of Pisa, Lucca, Livorno, Jesi, and Ravenna, which led to lower costs for the various opera productions. Notable among these programs was The Concert for Peace from King David Auditorium Tel Aviv (Israel).
From 2001 until 2004, Conti was music director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Turin. He infused the programming there with new life, helping to create growth in subscriptions, and began a series of initiatives that brought the orchestra more in touch with civic life in Turin. His recordings with the orchestra drew praise from critics, and he and the orchestra toured France, Germany, and Spain. He forged a partnership with the French city of Lyon, which led to a historic Dvorak Requiem at the National Auditorium of the same city. Under his leadership, the orchestra became known throughout Europe, with frequent tours in Italy, France, Germany, and Spain.
From 1998 to 2002, he was principal conductor at the Istituzione Sinfonica Abruzzese in Italy, responsible for a major period of artistic growth and international prestige that led to a series of recordings and frequent tours in Italy, France, and Spain.
Born in Bloomington, Ind., and raised not two blocks from the Indiana University campus, C. David Higgins started his theatrical studies at IU intent on becoming an actor/dancer before he discovered his love for scenic design. He studied with the famous C. Mario Cristini and became proficient in the Romantic-Realist style of scenic design and painting. After earning his master’s degree, he joined the staff of IU Opera Theater and worked there as master scenic artist from the time the Musical Arts Center opened in 1971 until his retirement in December 2011. He was appointed to the faculty in 1976 and served as chair of the Opera Studies Department and principal designer for Opera Theater. His design credits throughout the United States include the San Antonio Festival, Memphis Opera, Norfolk Opera, Louisville Opera, Detroit Symphony, Canton Ballet, and Sarasota Ballet as well as many other venues. His Indiana University productions have been seen throughout North America as rentals by major regional opera companies. His many international credits include the Icelandic National Theater; Ballet San Juan de Puerto Rico; Korean
National Opera; Seoul City Opera; Korean National Ballet; Dorset Opera (England); Teatro la Paz de Belém, Brazil; and the Teatro National de São Paulo, Brazil. He has designed the scenery for the world première of Our Town (Ned Rorem), the American premières of Jeppe (Sandström) and The Devils of Loudun (Penderecki), and the collegiate premières of Nixon in China (Adams) and The Ghosts of Versailles (Corigliano) as well as many other operas and ballets. Known for his Italianate painting style, Opera News magazine has referred to Higgins as one of the finest American scenic artists today
Patrick Mero is the head of lighting for Indiana University Opera and Ballet Theater. He has designed the lighting for Don Giovanni, Albert Herring, La Bohème, Tosca, L’Italiana in Algeri, West Side Story, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi, among other productions. He has done extensive design work for the Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department and the African American Art Institute’s Dance Ensemble. In addition to his work on the Musical Arts Center stage, Mero’s designs have been seen in several Cardinal Stage Company productions, including, most recently, All My Sons, Romeo and Juliet, The Grapes of Wrath, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Inherit the Wind. Mero originally hails from Charleston, S.C., but calls Bloomington home.
Christian Claessens was born in Brussels, Belgium, and began his ballet training with the renowned Dolores Laga and the legendary pedagogue Nora Kiss at the Conservatoire de Danse de la Monnaie. When he was 11, his family moved to Cannes, France, where he continued studies under Rosella Hightower and Jose Ferran. In 1978, Claessens came to New York as a scholarship student at The School of American Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre School, studying with Stanley Williams, Andre Kramarevsky, and Richard Rapp. After graduating, he performed with the Kansas City Ballet under the direction of Todd Bolender and with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater under Patricia Wilde. Returning to Europe in 1984, he began his association with The Dutch National Ballet. There he had the great opportunity to expand his classical repertoire in works by Fokine, Petipa, Ashton, Tudor, Nijinska, Nureyev, and Balanchine, while working closely with contemporary choreographers such as Rudy Van Danzig, Hans Van Manen, Rudolf Nureyev, Maguy Marin, William Forsythe, Frederick Ashton, Carolyn Carlson, and Ohad Naharan, and was soon established as soloist.
Claessens toured internationally in ballet troupes such as Stars of the American Ballet, Stars of the New York City Ballet, Stars of the Hong Kong Ballet, and Kozlov and friends, among others. He has appeared on television and in film and has taught at major ballet schools throughout the United States and Canada. In 1991, he co-founded the Scarsdale Ballet Studio with Diana White of New York City Ballet (NYCB). During his 15-year run as director and master teacher, he trained dancers of all levels. In 1999, he founded the International Ballet Project with Valentina Kozlova of NYCB. In 1998, he was asked to take over the directorship of the Purchase Youth Ballet, a division of the Conservatory of Dance at The State University of New York under the directorship of Carol Walker, dean of dance. In 2011, Claessens joined the faculty at Ballet Tech, official public school for dance in New York City, under the direction of Eliot Feld. An important and critical interest of Claessens’ has been the development of programs which have been therapeutic for special needs and challenged young people. He designed and taught curriculums for this at New Rochelle High School, Steffi Nossen School of Dance, and Scarsdale Ballet Studio.
His students trained from childhood to professional status are now prominent in major companies, such as New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and others.
Currently, Claessens teaches at the Jacobs School of Music as an adjunct faculty member as well as principal teacher and curriculum advisor for the Pre-College Ballet Program and Summer Intensive. He has choreographed for both IU Opera Theater and IU Ballet Theater. He is also on the faculty of the IU Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance under the direction of Elizabeth Shea, teaching courses on the Somatic approach to classical ballet.
Sasha Janes joined Charlotte Ballet in 2003 at the invitation of Jean Pierre Bonnefoux. There Janes performed principal roles in ballets by Twyla Tharp, Alonzo King, Nacho Duato, George Balanchine, Dwight Rhoden, Nicolo Fonte, Septime Webre, Jean Pierre Bonnefoux, Alvin Ailey, and Mark Godden.
He was appointed rehearsal director/ballet master in 2006, becoming responsible for daily scheduling, coaching, teaching company class, and the staging of ballets in the company’s repertoire. He also assisted guest repetiteurs in staging works by William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Alvin Ailey, Nicolo Fonte, Jiri Bubenicek, and many others. He produced his first choreographic work for Charlotte Ballet in 2006, Lascia la Spina, Cogli la Rosa.
Janes has choreographed over 25 ballets for Charlotte Ballet, including the highly successful Rhapsodic Dances, performed at the Kennedy Center as part of its Ballet Across America series to outstanding reviews in The Washington Post. Other works for Charlotte include Carmen, a new twist on the classic tale, set in the textile mills of North Carolina during the mill strikes of 1934, and Dangerous Liaisons, set to an original score by internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter-cellist Ben Sollee.
Shawn Stevens is originally from Houston, Texas. At age 14, she attended Walnut Hill School of Performing Arts under the direction of Sydelle Gomberg. She continued her training at The School of American Ballet. In 1982, she was chosen by George Balanchine to join New York City Ballet (NYCB). During her time with the company, she performed principal roles in Balanchine’s ballets, including Symphony in Three Movements, The Four Temperaments, and Symphony in C. She also danced in the original cast and performed principal roles in Brahms/Handel, choreographed by Twyla Tharp and Jerome Robbins. Stevens has worked with many other choreographers, such as Peter Martins, William Forsythe, Edward Villella, Ib Andersen, and Joseph Duell. During the 10 years she performed with NYCB, she danced in the TV programs Live from Lincoln Center with NYCB and Dance in America. She has also appeared
as a principal dancer with the New York City Opera in Cinderella. In 1991, Stevens joined Twyla Tharp Dance, where she performed for five years. With Tharp’s company, she performed repertoire works as well as new works as a principal. She was asked to dance in the Cutting Up tour with Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Stevens’ film credits include I’ll Do Anything and In the Upper Room, both choreographed by Tharp. Stevens was personally invited to perform in Tharp’s hit Broadway musical Movin’ Out. She has been teaching ballet at several schools, universities, and companies throughout the United States. She is approved by The George Balanchine Trust to restage George Balanchine works and also stages works by Tharp through the Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation.
Irina Ter-Grigor’yan received her degrees of piano performance, pedagogy, and accompanist in the former Soviet Union. She served as a faculty member at the Baku State Conservatory and as an accompanist for the Azerbaijan State Theater Opera and Ballet. She was selected from a small pool of musicians to accompany international and regional competitions representing the Soviet Union. During her time in the United States, Ter-Grigor’yan has continued her work as an accompanist with the Temple Square Concert Series Recitals in Salt Lake City, Utah; the University of Utah; and Ballet West Co.; and as a collaborative pianist at DePauw University. She is on the faculty of the Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department.
Anastasia Kniess earned both her Bachelor of Music Performance and her Performance Diploma from the Jacobs School of Music. A native of New Jersey, she has studied piano and violin intensely since the age of four and received training at Temple Music Prep and the Settlement Music School. She has attended the Aspen Music Festival and School and the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, and played in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. She is a current member of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra. This is her third season with IUBT.
Margaret Andriani began her training at Kansas City Ballet at the age of eight. At the age of 13, she joined Kansas City Youth Ballet under the direction of Alecia Good-Boresow and Kimberly Cowen. Throughout her time there, she was able to perform alongside the company as a corps member in Todd Bolender’s The Nutcracker, George Balanchine’s Serenade, and Victoria Morgan’s Cinderella. For the 2013-14 season, she was the company’s student apprentice under the direction of Devon Carney. She has spent summers training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Indiana University, and Ballet Austin. Currently, Andriani is a junior at IU pursuing a major in ballet and an outside field in arts management. She is a recipient of the Jacobs School of Music Young Artist merit award and the Jacobs School of Music Faculty Award.
Caroline Atwell is a junior from Charlotte, N.C. She began her ballet studies with Sybil Manzano at Jami Masters School of Dance and continued her training in the Charlotte Ballet pre-professional program (formerly North Carolina Dance Theatre) under Patricia McBride, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Kathryn Moriarty, and Mark Diamond. She has attended summer intensives at the Nutmeg Conservatory, Ballet Arizona, BalletMet, Ballet Chicago, Houston Ballet Academy, and San Francisco Ballet School, spending two summers at the Chautauqua Institution (both as a festival dancer and an apprentice dancer). She is currently a Hutton Honors College student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Entrepreneurship and a minor in Spanish.
Colleen Buckley began her ballet training in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y. Before her time at IU, she attended the Draper Center for Dance Education. There she had many opportunities to perform with the Rochester City Ballet, including in Cinderella, Balanchine’s Serenade, and various roles in The Nutcracker. She received additional training on scholarship to summer courses at Milwaukee Ballet and Cincinnati Ballet. She has appeared as a guest artist with the New York State Ballet, dancing Sugar Plum Fairy and Lead Marzipan in its performances of The Nutcracker. At IU, Buckley is a member of the Hutton Honors College and is a recipient of the A. R. Metz Scholarship. She has performed with IU Ballet Theater in many Balanchine ballets, including Divertimento No. 15, Serenade, Concerto Barocco, Swan Lake, and Rubies. She also teaches and assists with rehearsals for the IU Pre-College Ballet Program. She will complete her Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Political Science in December 2016.
A native of South Jersey, Danielle Cesanek began her dance education at the age of three under the direction of Kimberly O’Connor Sparks at Today’s Dance Center. At age 13, Cesanek continued her training with Andrea Duffin, Jennifer Mooney, and Eva Szabo at South Jersey Ballet School. She has attended summer programs at American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Chicago, and Pennsylvania Ballet. At age 17, she was invited to study full time at the School of Pennsylvania Ballet. While there, she studied under the instruction of William DeGregory, Arantxa Ochoa, Alexander Iziliaev,
Laura Bowman, and Martha Chamberlin. She also performed with Pennsylvania Ballet in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. During her time at Indiana University, she has performed in George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, Emeralds, Swan Lake, Concerto Barocco, and Tarantella, as well as in Michael Vernon’s The Nutcracker. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management.
Andrew Copeland began studying ballet in 2001. He trained at the Rowland/Ballard School of Ballet and Gymnastics in Kingwood, Texas, under Sheryl Rowland and at the Akiko Ballet Studio in Japan. He has attended the summer intensives of Ballet West for two years, Oklahoma City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Portland Festival Ballet on full scholarship. He is a recipient of the Premier Young Artist Scholarship from the Jacobs School of Music as well as the United Airlines Scholarship. At IU, Copeland is a Founders Scholar and a member of the Hutton Honors College and the Phi Eta Sigma and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies. With IU Ballet Theater, he has performed in Michael Vernon’s The Nutcracker (Cavalier, Snow Cavalier, Arabian), Paul Taylor’s Airs, Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies, David Parsons’s The Envelope, and George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, Swan Lake (Prince Siegfried), and Raymonda Variations. He is currently a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance and Biochemistry.
Tyler Dowdy is a senior at the Jacobs School of Music. Originally from Tampa, Fla., he began formal training at Next Generation Ballet under the direction of Peter Stark, where he performed in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Cinderella. Since arriving at Indiana University, Dowdy has performed in George Balanchine’s Tarantella, Rubies, Donizetti Variations, and Divertimento No. 15, Merce Cunningham’s Duets, David Parson’s The Envelope, Twyla Tharp’s Surfer at the River Styx and As Time Goes By, Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies, and Michael Vernon’s The Nutcracker.
Eli Downs is originally from Washington, D.C. and has trained at The Washington School of Ballet under the direction of Kee Juan Han. He was also coached by former Paul Taylor dancer Constance Dinapoli. Downs has performed in many roles, such as the Nutcracker Prince in Septime Weber’s The Nutcracker, pas de trois in Don Quixote, and the second solo in Paul Taylor’s Aureole. He has also performed in Balanchine’s Rubies, Merce Cunningham’s Duets, and Paul Taylor’s Musical Offerings at IU. Downs was a featured dancer in IU Opera Theater’s productions of The Last Savage and Oklahoma! He has attended summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre, The Washington School of Ballet, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. He is currently a junior graduating a year early, earning a Bachelor of Science in Ballet performance with an Outside Field in Law and Public Policy and a minor in Policy Studies through SPEA. He hopes to pursue a career as a lawyer and politician after graduation.
Nicholas Gray is a sophomore pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Theatre and Drama. He grew up in the thriving arts community of Milwaukee, Wis., where he trained at the First Stage Theatre Academy for six years and the Milwaukee Ballet for three years. He then began training at the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory for his junior and senior years of high school and spent the summers at Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, Wash. Most recently, Gray performed in Twyla Tharp’s As Time Goes By in this year’s fall ballet, in the roles of the Chinese Dance, Russian Dance, Rat King, and Party Parent in Michael Vernon’s The Nutcracker as well as in Twyla Tharp’s Surfer at the River Styx and Paul Taylor’s Musical Offering. He also performed in IU Opera Theater’s recent production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
Leah Gaston is a senior from Austin, Texas, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Education while graduating through the Hutton Honors Program. She began training at the Ballet Austin Academy at the age of three, eventually dancing with the trainee program before graduating from high school. While there, she performed alongside the company in performances such as The Nutcracker and Cinderella. She has spent summers training at Ballet Austin, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Boston Ballet, Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell, and Ballet Chicago. At IU, Gaston has performed in Marius Petipa’s La Bayadère, Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies, Paul Taylor’s Musical Offering, Michael Vernon’s The Nutcracker, and George Balanchine’s Rubies, Swan Lake, Serenade, and Divertimento No. 15 as well as dancing in Menotti’s opera The Last Savage.
Alexandra Elizabeth Hutchinson is a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Arts Management at Indiana University. Her classical ballet training began at the age of three in Wilmington, Del. She then for studied eight years at The Washington School of Ballet. She was the Virginia Johnson Scholar there for three consecutive years, while receiving two Kennedy Center Honors Scholarships. She has studied with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Carolina Ballet, and Chicago Ballet. At the request of her mentor, Violette Verdy, she studied with L’Académie Américaine de Danse de Paris in France. Hutchinson’s performance repertoire includes Choo San Goh’s Fives and Septime Webre’s Le Corsaire, as well as The Sleeping Beauty Variation, Paquita, and The Nutcracker. At IU, she has performed in Balanchine’s Swan Lake, Concerto Barocco, Raymonda Variations, Emeralds, and Rubies, and Sasha Janes’ Saudade, with featured roles in George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, Paul Taylor’s Airs, and Michael Vernon’s The Nutcracker. She has taught ballet at Indiana University and Joyful Motion Dance Studio in Maryland. In 2015, she was the first guest artist to perform on CBS affiliate WUSA-9 television’s morning show Great Day Washington.
Glenn Kelich is a junior from Arcadia, Ind. He began studying ballet as a sophomore in high school with Indiana Ballet Conservatory under the direction of Alyona Yakovleva-Randall. He has attended summer intensive programs with Ballet West Academy, Joffrey Chicago, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, all on full scholarship. In 2014, he was awarded the gold medal for classical variations at the Youth American Grand Prix regional and qualified for the finals in New York City. Thus far with Indiana University Ballet Theater, Kelich has performed in Anthony Tudor’s Dark Elegies, Michael Vernon’s The Nutcracker, and Balanchine’s Rubies, Elégie, and Divertimento No. 15. A recipient of the Premier Young Artist Award and the William and Emma Horn Scholarship at the Jacobs School of Music, he is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Sports Marketing and Management.
Jared Alexander Kelly is a sophomore pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Marketing. He began dancing at the New Macedonia Baptist Church as a member of the Liturgical Dance Ministry under the direction of Renee Henry. He was a student at the Thomas G. Pullen K-8 Performing Arts School in Landover, Md. He then attended the Dance Theatre of Harlem Pre-Professional Residency Program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., under the leadership of Arthur Mitchell. In the sixth grade, Kelly began more intensive training, at The Washington School of Ballet (TWSB) with Kee Juan Han and Katrina Toews. With TWSB, he performed at the White House for President and First Lady Obama. He also performed in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker with Pennsylvania Ballet at the Kennedy Center. Additionally, Kelly trained under Norma Pera at the Baltimore School for the Arts. He performed numerous lead roles there, including The Preacher in Appalachian Spring by Martha Graham, Waltz and Elegy Male in Serenade by George Balanchine, and the Nutcracker Prince in Barry Hughson’s The Nutcracker, on the Lyric Opera House stage in Baltimore, Md. He has attended summer programs of The Washington School of Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts, Boston Ballet School, and The School of American Ballet. He has also performed in Paul Taylor’s Musical Offerings, Twyla Tharp’s Surfer at the River Styx, Michael Vernon’s The Nutcracker, and George Balanchine’s Serenade and Divertimento No. 15.
Mark Lambert is a freshman at Indiana University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Arts Administration. He began studying ballet at age 14 at Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Mich., under Cameron Basden and Joseph Morrissey. There he performed principal roles in The Nutcracker, La Bayadère, and Peter and the Wolf, and numerous roles in Coppelia, The Sleeping Beauty, and New Works pieces. With Indiana University Ballet Theater, he has performed in George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, Sasha Jane’s Saudade, and Twyla Tharp’s As Time Goes By. He is a recipient of the Premier Young Artists Scholarship at the Jacobs School of Music.
Ryan McCreary is a junior from Mason, Ohio. She fell in love with dance as a young girl at the Mason Dance Center. Continuing her studies at the Northern Cincinnati Youth Ballet (NCYB) under the direction of Oliver Arana, she performed lead roles in The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, and Paquita. She has learned and performed principal roles in works by George Balanchine and Paul Taylor. McCreary attended summer programs at the Art of Classical Ballet, NCYB, and The School of American Ballet, and has studied with such distinguished instructors as Devon Carney, Mariaelena Ruiz, Stephanie Roig, Magaly Suarez, and Susie Payne. McCreary placed in the top 12 at the Youth America Grand Prix in New York City and placed fourth at the World Ballet Competition in Orlando Fla. In 2013, she was a silver-award winner at YoungArts in Miami, Fla., and a finalist for the Presidential Scholar in the Arts through that program. She is also a recipient of scholarships from the Jacobs School of Music.
Natalia Mieczykowski is a senior from Cincinnati, Ohio, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Exercise Science. She trained at Cincinnati Ballet for 14 years, beginning at the age of three. She danced in the company as a trainee for three years before coming to IU, performing in The Nutcracker, Bolero, Giselle, and Alice in Wonderland. She has attended summer intensive programs at the Kirov Academy of Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Next Generation Ballet, and Ballet Gdynia in Poland. Since coming to IU in fall 2013, she has danced in The Nutcracker and La Bayadère as well as multiple Balanchine ballets, including Emeralds, Rubies, Concerto Barocco, Swan Lake, Serenade, and Divertimento No. 15, as well as Twyla Tharp’s As Time Goes By. Among Mieczykowski’s awards are the Young Premiere Artist Award, C. G. Van Buskirk Scholarship, and Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation. She is a Hutton Honors student and Founders Scholar.
Lily Overmyer is from Manhattan, N.Y. She trained at The School of American Ballet and Ballet Academy East, where she studied under Darla Hoover. Her summer training includes Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Boston Ballet School, and Miami City Ballet. She received full scholarship as an apprentice for Chautauqua Summer with Charlotte Ballet in 2015. At Indiana University, she has performed most recently in Twyla Tharp’s As Time Goes By, George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, Raymonda Variations, Rubies, Emeralds, and Swan Lake Act II, and David Parsons’ The Envelope. She has also been featured in Michael Vernon’s The Nutcracker as Snow Queen (2015), Snow Princess (2014), Chinese (2015), and Marzipan (2015). Overmyer is currently a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Arts Management.
Emily Smith is a senior from Gurnee, Ill., and received her early training at Dancenter North under the direction of Cheri Lindell. There she danced such featured roles as Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. She spent five summers attending intensive programs at Pacific Northwest Ballet and Miami City Ballet. In summer 2016, she was an intern at Broadway Dance Center and completed its Summer Professional Semester for dancers. At Indiana University, she has performed in Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, Raymonda Variations, Concerto Barocco, La Bayadère, Swan Lake, and Rubies, David Parsons’ The Envelope, and Michael Vernon’s production of The Nutcracker (various roles, including Snow Queen). Smith is pursuing dual degrees at IU: a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. She is a recipient of a Hutton Honors Scholarship and a Music Faculty Award from the Jacobs School of Music. She is a member of Hutton Honors College, IU Founders Scholars, Intra-Collegiate Emergency Medical Service, and Alpha Phi.
Raffaella Stroik, from South Bend, Ind., is a senior at the Jacobs School of Music. She trained at Southold Dance Theater under the direction of Erica Fischbach. There she danced featured roles such as Swanhilde in Coppelia and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. She competed as a soloist in the New York City finals of the Youth America Grand Prix. While at IU, Stroik has danced principal roles in Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies and George Balanchine’s Emeralds and Divertimento No. 15, as well as dancing the Swan Queen in Balanchine’s Swan Lake, First Violin in Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, the Sugar Plum Fairy in Michael Vernon’s The Nutcracker, and the Waltz Girl in Balanchine’s Serenade. She has participated in American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive in New York City, Boston Ballet’s summer dance program, and Ballet West’s summer intensive on full scholarship. She has also studied with Fabrice Herrault and Sofiane Sylve. Stroik performed as a company dancer with the American Contemporary Ballet for its fifth season.
Elizabeth Yanick is a senior from Troy, Mich. She studied at the Rochester School of Dance under the direction of Cornelia Sampson. She has attended various summer intensives at The School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Broadway Dance Center’s Professional Semester. While at Indiana University, Yanick has performed in The Nutcracker, La Bayadère, Swan Lake, Twyla Tharp’s Surfer at the River Styx, Balanchine’s Elégie, and Sasha Janes’ Saudade. She is also studying human resources and business, and is hoping to pursue dance after graduation.