Passion for quality shapes Salt Creek’s ‘Nutcracker’
Madeline Grimes of Western Springs will dance as one of the toy soldiers in Salt Creek Ballet's "The Nutcracker." | Photo by Scott Lewis
Salt Creek Ballet, Hinsdale Central Auditorium, 5500 S. Grant St., Hinsdale
1 p.m. Nov. 24-25
Tickets for Saturday are $31; $26 seniors and children; $15 balcony. Tickets for Sunday, $31-$37, include the Sugar Plum Party, a limited number of 2nd balcony tickets are available for $20.
(630) 769-1199 or visit www.saltcreekballet.org
Performances 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 at Governors State University, 1 University Parkway, University Park. Tickets at www.centertickets.net or (708) 235-2222.
Updated: November 21, 2012 11:28AM
As beloved a tradition as Christmas lights or Santa lists, Salt Creek Ballet’s annual performance of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” returns to brighten the holidays.
“It’s my favorite time of year,” said Luke McCollum, a guest artist who’s dancing the Nutcracker Prince. “I love the holidays and I love ‘ The Nutcracker’ season because there’s always so much energy around the rehearsals, especially I think as it gets closer to the show because there are so many kids involved. It’s a really fun way to experience the holidays.”
It’s been one of the top area ‘Nutcrackers’ way for 27 years.
“We really pride our selves on having a very well trained company that gives a very good performance and we supplement that with guest artists that bring another level of artistry to the production,” said Christina Salerno, Salt Creek Ballet’s executive director. “It’s important for our dancers to see other dancers, professionals, perform, and it’s important for audiences to be able to see that as well.”
Salerno’s dance career started with her performance in the Chicago Tribune Charities’ “The Nutcracker” as a child. A few years later, she began work with Salt Creek Ballet (then known as the Patricia Sigurdson School of Ballet), dancing the role of Clara in the group’s first performance of “The Nutcracker.”
“Actually before I was even in it, I remember my grandmother took me to see the ‘Nutcracker’ downtown when I was about 6 or 7 and I still remember coming home and dancing and pretending I was Clara or one of the party girls dancing around with a doll my grandmother had given me that year.”
Salerno credits Artistic Director and Primary Choreographer Sergey Kozadayez along with his wife Artistic Director Zhanna Dubrovskaya, who’s also choreographing, with being a factor in keeping the production fresh every year.
“Sergey really does look at the dancers that he has any given year and changes the production ever so slightly to kind of reflect who the dancers are currently,” she said. “They are really amazing coaches. To watch them work with these young people is really inspiring and really amazing.”
This year’s pre professional cast of 100 dancers includes local children and young adults ages 8-17 from the school of the Salt Creek Ballet, as well as 15 company dancers and eight apprentices.
“There are some boys that are talented, there are some girls that are really talented, and it’s just really exciting to see them on stage and see them start blossoming as artists,” said Salerno.
The upcoming performance will mark Western Springs’ Madeline Grimes’ eighth performance of “The Nutcracker” with Salt Creek Ballet. Now a sophomore at Benet High School, she will perform the roles of Soldier Doll, Snow Crystal, one of the Mirlitons and one of the Waltz Couple.
“Dance is really important to me and I’ve been dancing for so long and it’s something I really want to work hard at,” said Grimes. “So ‘The Nutcracker’ really gives me opportunities because the performances Salt Creek puts on are really elaborate, especially compared to a lot of other area dance schools because this is pre-professional. We spend a lot of time cleaning them [the moves] and rehearsing them so they look as clean as possible on stage.”
McCollum, who’s danced on Broadway and with Cirque de Soleil, also values the quality of the Salt Creek tradition. “It’s a really good atmosphere to be around, he said, ‘because everybody is working really hard but at the same time everyone’s happy to be there.”