Hylton Debut for Gainesville Ballet with International Dance Stars

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Contributed by Gainesville Ballet

Gainesville Ballet Swan Lake, Act II in May 2013 Isabella Reilly (center)

Gainesville Ballet
Swan Lake, Act II in May 2013
Isabella Reilly (center)

GAINESVILLE, Va. – Gainesville Ballet is pleased to announce the performance of a traditional Nutcracker story on Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 6:30 PM.  The full-length ballet will be entitled Clara and The Nutcracker Prince and features international guest dancers, faculty and students of the award-winning arts organization.

As decorative lights begin to sparkle across homes in Prince William County on Thanksgiving weekend, the elegant opera house of the 1,123-seat Merchant Hall at the Hylton Performing Arts Center will usher in the holiday season with the fanfare of soldiers and mice.  Ballet patrons will be welcomed by an elaborate two-story grand foyer leading to a large auditorium defined by circular balcony seats that glimmer three stories high, an expansive orchestra section, state-of-the art acoustics and an intimate ambiance.

With a spacious 100-foot stage reaching gracefully into a stately theater, the dancers of Gainesville Ballet will perform in the window-like backdrop created by a proscenium arch.  The architecture brings the scenes close to the audience in a symbiotic style fueled by the stage-to-seat energy of classical artistry.  Inspiration flows from each movement of the dance and is returned to the performer through the rapture and applause of theater-goers.

The building structure stands majestically on the Prince William campus of George Mason University as a cultural center for the arts in Northern Virginia.  The location for the upcoming performance is 10960 George Mason Circle in Manassas, Virginia.  The facility is rapidly becoming a destination venue for international arts organizations of every theatrical genre.  Tickets for the eighth annual holiday performance of Gainesville Ballet are $35 for orchestra seats, with discounts for seniors, military, and children under age 12.  Balcony seats range from $15 to $25.  Guests have the option to purchase from the box office at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, online under Gainesville Ballet at www.tickets.com or by calling (888) 945-2468.

The music for the production is the original score by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  Tchaikovsky composed The Nutcracker in December of 1891.  A year later, the première was held at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  The commission was to compose a ballet based on Dumas the Elder’s version of a Christmas fairy tale by E.T.A Hoffmann.  The production has gained in popularity through the last century, especially in the United States.

This season, talent from across the region will entertain audiences alongside an international cast of dancers at the performing arts center thanks to the strong leadership of the directors at Gainesville Ballet – Elysabeth Muscat, Managing Director, and Rafik Hegab, Artistic Director.  The team reached across several continents to assemble a cast of guest stars with local professionals, pre-professionals and young children in Northern Virginia.  Partnered by Evgenia Singur (Odette), Mr. Hegab (Siegfried) recently performed with the dancers of Gainesville Ballet in the production of Swan Lake, Act II on May 25, 2013.  He has served the school for the past eight months in Gainesville, Virginia as director, teacher and choreographer.  The upcoming production will feature new choreography and staging by the artistic director based upon the E.T.A. Hoffman story, with beautiful costumes and scenery.

Originally from Egypt, Hegab joined the Cairo Opera Ballet Company in 1999, won first place in the Egyptian National Ballet Competition in 2000, rose the ranks to Soloist and Principal Dancer, and embarked on international tours with the company in China, Lebanon, the Czech Republic, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, India, Greece, and Russia.  This international experience has helped draw guest talent to the stages of Virginia.  The role of the Nutcracker and the Nutcracker Prince will be danced by Nour Eldesouki, who is a Soloist at the Essen Opera Ballet, known as Aalto Ballett Essen, in Germany.  He is formerly a Soloist with the Dresden Semperoper and the Bavarian State Ballet, known as the Bayerischen Staatsballett, in Munich and former Principal Dancer at the Cairo Opera and Ballet in Egypt.  Mr. Eldesouki will be partnered in the Gainesville Ballet production by a female guest dancer flying overseas from the stages of Europe.

Mr.  Eldesouki was born in Cairo, Egypt, where he completed his dance training at the Academy of Arts.  He joined the Cairo Ballet Company where he danced from 1997 until 2000, and was promoted to Soloist in 1999.  Further solo engagements have taken the multiple award-winner to the Connecticut Ballet Company and the Semper Opera in Dresden.  From 2005 to 2010, he danced with the Bavarian State Ballet in Munich as a demi-soloist with roles as Siegfried and Rothbart in Swan Lake, the Prince in The Nutcracker, Basil in Don Quixote and Ali in Le Corsaire.  In addition to the classical roles, his repertoire includes numerous modern works such as William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, Glenn Tetley’s Voluntaries and Kenneth MacMillian’s Songs of the Earth.  He has worked with many renowned choreographers, including Hans van Manen, John Neumeier, Vladimir Derevianko and Uwe Scholz.  Nour became a member of the Aalto Ballet Theatre Essen as a soloist in 2009/10, performing solo roles in Irish Soul as well as roles as Zuniga and José in Carmen/Boléro.

     As a rare opportunity for the dance community of Northern Virginia, Mr. Eldesouki will teach a special Master Class at Gainesville Ballet on Monday, December 2, 2013.  The 90-minute class will be held at the new state-of-the-art studios in Gainesville, Virginia from 7 to 8:30 PM for the cost of $25.  The address for the facility just launched in September 2013 is 7528 Old Linton Hall Road.  The class is open to all intermediate and advanced dancers in the community from age 13 to 21.  A Master Class is a teaching forum for students in a specified discipline to learn from an expert in the field.  These lessons become foundational in the training of a developing dancer as the student aspires to a professional career.  The class will be an opportunity to meet and train with the guest Nutcracker, who has danced with the ballet companies of Munich, Dresden, Essen, and Cairo.  Both students of Gainesville Ballet and the broader community of dance in Northern Virginia are invited to join the session.  Tickets can be purchased by contacting the ballet school at www.gainesvilleballetcompany.org.

     A third international guest star from Central America will dance the role of Boy Doll, paired with Chloe Banachoski, age 14, an eighth grader from Marsteller Middle School in the role of Girl Doll.  He will also appear in other character roles with students from Gainesville Ballet, to include Grandfather in the Party Scene, and Trepak.  Other professional dancers on-stage with local children include four faculty members of Gainesville Ballet: Shady Aly (Herr Drosselmeyer, Chinese, Marzipan), Kathryn Anderson (Mother, Snow Queen, Lead Flower), Onica Hobbs (Mother), and Stephanie Parkinson (Grandmother, Lead Flower).  Mr. Aly performed as Soloist with the Cairo Opera Ballet Company from 2005 to July 2013.  He has danced leading roles in both classical and contemporary works such as Don Quixote, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Spartacus, The Rite of Spring, Zorba, and more.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the Academy of Arts in Cairo in 2008, and won first prize in the Egyptian National Ballet Competition in 2010.  Most recently, he appeared as Rothbart in Gainesville Ballet’s production of Swan Lake, Act II in Haymarket, Virginia.  This summer, Mr. Aly joined the dance faculty of Gainesville Ballet for the 2013/14 season, and upon seeing the thriving arts community of the region, he has chosen Prince William County in the state of Virginia as his home.  Ms. Anderson recently graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Performance/Choreography from the University of South Carolina, and joined the faculty of Gainesville Ballet for 2013/14.  Prior to her current position on the staff, she was a trainee with the Georgia Ballet, where she performed in a wide range of classical ballets as well as Balanchine’s Serenade.  She served as an instructor of ballet at the University of South Carolina Dance Conservatory, teaching a wide range of levels from pre-ballet to advanced students.  Two staff members to perform joined the faculty of Gainesville Ballet prior to this season.  Ms. Hobbs studied in New Jersey at Allegro Dance Arts Academy under Nancy Volpe.  She was a member and choreographer for the Dance Company of Virginia Tech.  She spent four years teaching at Dance.tech Performing Arts Studio in Blacksburg, Virginia.  In this role, Ms. Hobbs taught ballet, pointe, lyrical and jazz from beginner to advanced, and choreographed for the studio’s performing arts company.  She has also performed with the Blacksburg Ballet as Clara, the Snow Queen and the Arabian Princess in their Nutcracker performances, and assisted with choreography.  She has served as a judge and master class teacher with Elite Dance Challenge.  Most recently, she performed for two seasons with the modern company, Mayzsoul, and has served on the faculty of Gainesville Ballet since September 2011.

     Ms. Parkinson has over 12 years of dance experience and has been teaching for the past three years.  She grew up dancing in Georgetown, Delaware at the Sussex Dance Academy under the direction of Kate Downs Walker.  Furthering her education in Winchester, Virginia, she graduated magna cum laude from Shenandoah Conservatory with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance in 2011.  She has worked alongside many professional companies: Virginia School of the Arts, Moving People Dance Theatre, Luna Negra Dance Theatre, and Rubberbandance Group.  Recently, Ms. Parkinson toured as Soloist and company member with Ekilibre Dance Company throughout the North and South Americas.  She taught at various studios and workshops across multiple counties in Northern Virginia and overseas in South America, to include: Patrick County Dancing Arts Center in Stuart, Virginia; Ol’ Soft Shoe Dance Workshop in Front Royal, Virginia; and Pam Danza Teatro in Guayaquil, Ecuador.  She joined the faculty at Gainesville Ballet in April 2013 and travels from Front Royal, Virginia in Warren County to share her expertise in dance as a teacher, performer and choreographer.

     The students of Gainesville Ballet will be represented in numerous roles including Clara, Party Guests, Dolls, Snowflakes, Flowers, Angels, Mice, Soldiers, Gingerbread, Trepak, Arabian, Chinese, and Spanish divertissement.  Each child in the school has the chance to participate in the annual holiday performance to include younger children of differing ages and ability starting at age three.  The highest level of student classes at Gainesville Ballet is Level 4 and Level 5, with 23 dancers learning the most elaborate choreography.  These advanced ballerinas range in age from 9 to 17, and travel from a geography that spans two counties – Prince William and Fauquier – for training and rehearsals that reach an average of 12 to 17 combined hours weekly during the production season.

The role of young Clara from Act I will be danced by Caroline Beard, an experienced soloist and assistant teacher with Gainesville Ballet.  For the past few seasons, patrons of the ballet have watched Caroline enchant audiences as Cupid Fairy, a role that reflected an extraordinary level of dance mastery in the annual Nutcracker production.  This year, Caroline will return to the coveted role of young Clara for the Hylton debut.  She is age 16, and an eleventh grader from Kettle Run High School.  Residents from across the region can meet young Clara and other dancers and faculty of the school at the upcoming Nutcracker Tea at the studios in Gainesville, Virginia on November 17, 2013 for an afternoon celebration of the arts.  Guests can enjoy delectable desserts and tea along with a short demonstration of dances from the upcoming performance.  The reception will be held from 2:30 to 3:30 PM for $15 per person.  Tickets can be purchased by contacting the ballet school at www.gainesvilleballetcompany.org.  The first Nutcracker Teas were held as an outreach program during the 2012 season for Gainesville Ballet, with an overwhelming response from the girls and boys of the community who left with a belly of sweets and captivated smiles.  Ballerinas dressed in beautiful costumes posed for pictures with guests, signed autographs, danced impromptu to the irresistible songs of the Nutcracker ballet alongside twirling tots and shared the magic of the performing arts by connecting with the community through a social tea.  Pictures of mesmerized children from the event later appeared on the front page of a newspaper.

Eleven dancers from Level 5 will perform in many key roles, most notably: Madeline Penn (Mouse King); Monica Tirado (Spanish); Sara Massei, Emma Dryden, Rebecca Morneau, Gabrielle Reilly, and Jessica Shalvey (Arabian); Abigail Mumma, Isabella Reilly and professional, Shady Aly (Marzipan); along with the aforementioned and other dances for the corps de ballet.

     Twelve dancers from Level 4 will dance as Big Mice in Act I: Ashton Brown, Sophia Browning, Kayla Conrad, Talia Dickson, Aly Fridey, Charis Hadginikitas, Tansy Huang, Gabrielle Jeong, Abigail Judkins, Phoebe Judkins, Elle Park and Sara Rheintgen.  Students who reach this high level of advance have achieved the technical proficiency and strength to study en pointe, and a competency of art that is essential to the natural progression toward mastery.  Tansy Huang, 12, Gabrielle Jeong, 11, Phoebe Judkins, 12, and Elle Park, 10, will also perform the technically-vigorous dance known as Chinese in Act II.

Experienced dancers make light of the intricate footwork with rapidity, facility and a smile.  The sequence has been choreographed for the pre-professional dancers to perform alongside award-winning professional dancer, Shady Aly, who is an internationally-acclaimed artist and faculty member of Gainesville Ballet.  Aly Fridey, 11, Charis Hadginikitas, 13, Abigail Judkins, 11, and Sara Rheintgen, 12, will also dance in the traditional Trepak, known as Russian, a lively dance infused with buoyant charm beside a guest performer who has earned recognition on international stages.  Maris Jones, 9, will dance the featured role of Small Nutcracker as a Level 3 student.  The pairing of professionals of global renown with local talent from metro-D.C. on the regional stages of Manassas, Virginia is one of the great achievements of Gainesville Ballet in bringing the eighth annual production to the Hylton Performing Arts Center this season.

Gainesville Ballet has a strong history in classical training, on-stage excellence, and community outreach.  Two dancers performed in Le Corsaire with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) at the Kennedy Center in April 2013 – Abigail Mumma and Sara Massei.  This is the second time for each ballerina to perform on-stage at this performing arts venue, and reflects the rapidly-growing reputation and proficiency of the pre-professional dancers at Gainesville Ballet.  On May 6, 2012, Gainesville Ballet was honored as Outstanding Arts Organization during the 2012 Seefeldt Awards for Arts Excellence.  Each year, the Seefeldt Awards recognize individuals and organizations who have contributed to the strength and success of the local arts.  The ceremony was part of Arts Alive! 2012 in the Hylton Performing Arts Center with special guest emcees, Bob Madigan of WTOP and Tracee Wilkins of NBC4.

To learn more about Gainesville Ballet, visit www.gainesvilleballetcompany.org.  For more information about the upcoming performance and ticketing, visit http://www.hyltoncenter.org/calendar/416/.  Choose your favorite seats from the comfort of your home, and enjoy the beloved holiday classic as the scurry of mice and clash of swords take center stage in our hearts this season.  Start your holiday magic in Manassas, Virginia with a journey through the Kingdom of Sweets on Thanksgiving weekend – a treat for all to enjoy!

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