Centennial Youth Ballet is Prepping for a Holiday Tradition

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For​ ​the​ ​students​ ​of​ ​Centennial​ ​Youth​ ​Ballet,​ ​Mini-Nutcracker​ ​season​ ​is​ ​already​ ​in​ ​motion;​ ​started off​ ​this​ ​season​ ​on​ ​Saturday, ​Aug.​ ​19, 2017 ​with this seasons round of​ ​Nutcracker​ ​auditions.

This​ ​year​ ​will​ ​be​ ​the​ ​36th year of​ ​performances​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Centennial’s​ ​Mini​ ​Nutcracker.​ ​Under​ ​the direction of ​Mr.​ ​Matthew Christensen,​ ​students​ ​of​ ​Centennial​ ​Youth​ ​ballet​ will ​perform​ ​an​ adapted​ ​version​ ​of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The​ ​Nutcracker.​ ​

Described as a performance that is,​ ​“Designed​ ​to​ ​introduce​ ​children​ ​to​ ​ballet​ ​as​ ​a​ ​performance​ ​art, ​this​ ​longstanding​ ​local Nutcracker​ ​tradition​ ​is​ ​an​ ​abbreviated,​ ​narrated​ ​version​ ​of​ ​Tchaikovsky’s​ ​’Nutcracker​ ​Suite Ballet’​ ​and​ ​features​ ​young​ ​dancers​ ​from​ ​the​ ​parks​ ​program.”​ ​

The Sugar Plum Fairy will be performed by Paige Higgins. The​ ​performance​ ​features ​two​ ​professional​ ​dancers this year. The Sugar​ ​Plum​ ​Fairy’s​ ​Cavalier will be performed by David Flores ​and​ ​Drosselmeyer will be performed by Tony Montalvo.

Each​ ​student​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Centennial​ ​Youth​ ​Ballet​ ​program​ ​that​ ​wishes​ ​to​ ​perform​ ​in​ ​the Mini-Nutcracker,​ ​is​ ​required​ ​to​ ​audition.​ ​These​ ​auditions​ ​are​ ​divided​ ​into​ ​two​ ​groups,​ ​the advanced​ ​and​ ​the​ ​intermediate/beginner​ ​students.​

For​ ​the​ ​advanced​ ​students,​ ​the​ ​audition consisted​ ​of​ ​class​ ​with​ ​of​ ​more​ ​character​ and​ ​pointe​ ​work.​ ​School director, Katherine Wilkening, explained ​younger​ ​dancers​ ​were​ ​”taught​ ​a​ ​bit of​ ​choreography​ ​because​ ​it brought​ ​out​ ​hidden​ ​qualities ​and​ ​allowed​ ​the teachers​ ​to​ ​know​ ​the​ ​students​ ​better.” Ms. Wilkening is a native of Franklin, TN and has been with the Centennial Youth Ballet since 2014. Previous to her coming home to Tennessee, she spent 17 years living and working in New York.

When​ ​asked​ ​if​ ​she​ ​and​ ​the​ ​other​ ​teachers​ ​were​ ​looking​ ​for specific

attributes ​during​ ​the​ ​audition,​ ​Mrs.​ ​Silkening​ ​responded​ ​that​ ​they​ ​were​ ​looking​ ​for​ ​a​ ​few different​ ​things,​ ​“We​ ​were​ ​looking​ ​for​ ​how​ ​accurate​ ​dancers ​are​ ​…​ ​musicality,​ ​personal​ ​expression, how​ ​they​ ​react​ ​to​ ​mistakes, corrections, and​ ​attitude.”​ ​

She​ ​also​ ​stressed​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​knowing​ ​how​ ​it​ ​is to​ ​work​ ​with​ ​the​ ​dancer;​ ​that​ ​the​ ​difference​ ​between​ ​having​ ​a​ ​work​ ​ethic​ ​verses​ ​becoming frustrated​ ​could​ ​be​ ​a​ ​deciding​ ​factor.

Although​ ​the​ ​the​ ​school​ ​already​ ​knows​ ​their​ ​dancers,​ ​Mrs.​ ​Wilkening,​ ​the​ ​school director,​ ​still​ ​finds​ ​importance​ ​in​ ​this​ ​audition.​ ​“If​ ​a​ ​dancer​ ​is​ ​going​ ​out​ ​in​ ​the​ ​real​ ​world​ ​to audition​ ​they​ ​need​ ​to​ ​know​ ​some​ ​skills​ ​to​ ​audition​ ​with.”​ ​she​ ​responds​ ​when​ ​asked​ ​about​ ​the necessity​ ​of​ ​the​ ​audition.​

Mrs.​ ​Wilkening​ ​stated​ ​that​ ​these​ ​skills​ ​include​ ​adaptability,​ ​quick learning,​ ​and​ ​quick​ ​thinking.​ ​She​ ​also​ ​included​ ​that​ ​even​ ​if​ ​students​ ​are​ ​not​ ​going​ ​to​ ​dancing field,​ ​these​ ​skills​ ​would​ ​be​ ​important​ ​for​ ​whatever​ ​profession​ ​they​ ​are​ ​going​ ​into.

The​ ​audition​ ​was​ ​designed​ ​to​ ​be​ ​as​ ​close​ ​to​ ​a​ ​real​ ​audition​ ​the​ ​dancers​ ​might​ ​do​ ​if​ ​they were​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​get​ ​into​ ​a​ ​summer​ ​dance​ ​intensive.​ ​However​ ​the​ ​dancers​ ​did​ ​notice​ ​that​ ​there​ ​were a​ ​few​ ​differences.​ ​

Because​ ​the​ ​teachers​ ​know​ ​their​ ​students​ ​so​ ​well,​ ​they​ ​were​ ​able​ ​to​ ​challenge them​ ​at​ ​their​ ​level,​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​opting​ ​for​ ​easier​ ​combinations​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​the​ ​levels​ ​of​ ​the​ ​dancers. One​ ​student,​ ​Caitlin​ ​Narion​ ​commented​ ​that,​ ​“There​ ​was​ ​more​ ​complex​ ​combinations​ ​in​ ​the beginning​ ​of​ ​the​ ​class.”​ ​

During​ ​the​ ​audition,​ ​the​ ​teacher,​ ​Christensen,​ ​explained​ ​that​ ​this​ ​was to​ ​check​ ​that​ ​the​ ​dancers​ ​were​ ​paying​ ​attention​ ​to​ ​the​ ​details​ ​of​ ​the​ ​combination.

After​ ​the​ ​audition,​ ​most​ ​dancers​ ​felt​ ​good​ ​about​ ​how​ ​they​ ​did.​ ​However,​ ​as​ ​in​ ​all auditions,​ ​some​ ​dancers​ ​were​ ​anxious​ ​about​ ​mistakes​ ​they​ ​had​ ​made.​ ​Results​ ​were​ ​posted Tuesday​ ​the​ ​22nd​, ​and​ ​many​ ​of​ ​the​ ​dancers​ ​were​ ​excited​ ​for​ ​their​ ​roles.​ ​


Rehearsals​ started​ ​the​ ​weekend​ ​of​ ​the​ ​26th,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​dancers​ ​are already​ ​off​ ​to​ ​work​ ​learning​ ​their​ ​various​ ​roles. With​ ​preparations​ ​for​ ​the​ ​performance​ ​already​ ​underway,​ ​it’s​ ​promising​ ​for​ ​another​ ​brilliant​ ​year of​ ​Centennial’s​ ​Mini-Nutcracker.

To purchase tickets for this year’s performance, all tickets will be sold through Brown Paper Ticket’s website or over their phone service.

No ticket sales go through Metro Parks for this performance. A select few tickets will be sold at the door of Harpeth Hall auditorium, however, these tickets sell very fast.

Tickets go on sale to the public

Monday, Oct 30, 6 am.

Friends of Metro Dance Membership

Pre-Sale begins Friday, Oct 27, 6 am.

Friday, December 1, 7 pm
Saturday, December 2, 2 pm & 7 pm
Sunday, December 3, 1 pm