Topeka, KS (December 1, 2012) – The Metropolitan Ballet of Topeka opened the holiday season on December 1, 2012 with a full flavored production of the Tchaikovsky ballet “The Nutcracker.” Cast with internationally regarded professionals and featured performers from the Kansas Ballet Academy as well as other local and regional dance studios, audience members were treated to an exceptional experience. The production runs December 1st and 2nd at the Topeka Performing Arts Center.
More than 60 local children from several area dance schools perform alongside seasoned professionals, accompanied by The Metropolitan Ballet Orchestra led by international Master Conductor Dr. Leon Burke, III, during this two-day run.
Professional guest dancers include Selahattin Erkan from Cincinnati Ballet and husband and wife team Aaron Orlowski and Katherine Lawrence from Salt Lake City, UT. Ms. Lawrence is a Principal Dancer with Ballet West and recently appeared on the CW‘s summer reality TV show “Breaking Pointe.”
Presentation score 4/5
While it has been quite some time since I have attended a live ballet performance, I along with hundreds of other audience members were treated to a thrilling, colorful and well executed performance. Dazzling costuming, light show design and set creation, combined with the skillful and energetic performances of the dancers, supercharged an already highly electric atmosphere as we witnessed an absolutely amazing production of the timeless classic ballet. This performance was the premier production of the newly rejuvenated Topeka Metropolitan Ballet.
This year’s production was directed by Stephanie Heston and Alexander Smirnov, owners of the Kansas Ballet Academy who combined, bring more than 35 years of experience as professional ballet dancers, choreographers, instructors and directors. The team have performed in over 20 states and fifteen countries.
As the owners of Kansas Ballet Academy, they are passionate about sharing their knowledge with the next generation of dancers and strive to uplift the community through the art of classical ballet. Heston and Smirnov began their onstage partnership at Ballet International of Indianapolis in 2004; were married in 2009 and are now the proud parents of a 10 month old daughter.
Kansa Ballet Academy opened its doors for class on September 4, 2012 and between promoting the school, recruiting and student intake activities, Heston and Smirnov where moving forward with the creation of their premier production for The Metropolitan Ballet of Topeka — The Nutcracker.
What STAMINA these two must have — and patience! Well, they and their crew did a magnificent job of creating a stellar performance production and training up the pre-ballet and junior ballet students to do more than look cute on stage.
I would like to confess at this moment, that amongst my involuntary “ooh’s and aah’s” for the professional and advanced level performers, the pre-ballet students (playing mice and angels) drew from me some uncustomary “aww’s and how cute’s.” To put that in perspective for you, I am a combat veteran of multiple deployments whose wife says has the emotional make up of a brick wall. These children were well trained, unafraid of performing on the big stage and so full of personality that my tough guy card went right out the window — I enjoyed myself immensely!