Seven dancers in this year’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker” involved since inaugural year

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on November 28, 2017

Menlowe Ballet dancers It's a Wonderful Nutcracker

Seven dancers in this year’s production of Menlowe Ballet’s It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker have been involved since the inaugural year in 2015. The Menlo Park Academy of Dance students, all who attend local high schools, will be alongside professional dancers in the Waltz of the Flowers and the Snow scenes.

“Training at this level demands 20 to 25 hours per week, the equivalent of a part-time job or as much as any student athlete,” explained Menlowe Executive Director Lisa Shiveley. “The students spent their summers augmenting their fabulous training here at the Boston Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance, Juilliard, American Ballet Theater, Irvine, and Master Ballet Academy.”

Milena Raeber, a 10th grader at Woodside High School, started dancing when she was six. “I like performing,” she said. “The hard work you put in during rehearsal shows through in the performance. That makes it satisfying.”

She enjoys both ballet and contemporary dance and is intrigued with the idea of one day being a choreographer. “I like art in general,” she added.

Menlo School sophomore Lindsey Chao started dancing at the Menlo Park Academy of Dance when she was three, so this is her 13th year. “Whenever I come to dance it relieves the stress of school,” she said. “I’m in the happiest state I can be! I’ve also learned valuable lessons that I can apply to other areas of my life.”

It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker will be performed at the M-A Performing Arts Center December 8-10 and 15-17. Tickets are available online.

Menlowe Ballet will also present It’s a Suite Nutcracker, a 45-minute version on December 10 at 11:00 a.m. This performance features a friendly, supportive environment for families of a loved one who has special needs. Traditional theater rules are relaxed and audience members are welcome to verbally express their delight, play with toys they have brought for comfort, and exit/re-enter the theater as needed.

Photos by Irene Searles (c) 2017. Top photo shows Leighton Shiveley on the floor and standing left to right Meghan Kerr, Lindsey Chao, Isabel Harding, Sophia Dorosin, Kate Hammond, and Milena Raeber

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