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A Nutcracker Ballet and Holiday Tea

A Nutcracker Ballet and Holiday Tea returns with a professional magician and the battle between Mice and Soldiers!

For each of the past six years, the Colorado Youth Ballet has offered a winning formula that has resulted in sold-out houses to their A Nutcracker Ballet and Holiday Tea. But for 2010, the six performances scheduled for Dec. 18-21 at Rampart High School (8250 Lexington Drive in Colorado Springs) will receive some major updates along with a very special guest artist.

"Everyone knows that the magic of the Nutcracker story is generated by the mysterious Drosselmeyer, the uncle of the children, Clara and Fritz," said Patricia Hoffman, Artistic Director and Founder of the Youth Ballet and its parent organization – The Ballet Society of Colorado Springs. "The role is almost always performed by a ballet dancer who may offer a simple trick or two, but we wanted real magic on stage and found the perfect person to do it. We found Erik Bryan."

Bryan is a Colorado Springs native who is known to local audiences for his starring roles in Opera Theatre of the Rockies' Pikes Peak Center productions. He also is the winner of the Denver Post 2009 Ovation Award's "Best Actor in a Musical Role." Few know that Bryan is from a family of professional magicians and practices the illusionary arts himself.

"It's exciting for me to put acting, dancing and magic together for the first time on stage," said Bryan. "It also will be a great moment for my family. My father did his own special magic show version of the Nutcracker for decades and now the 'son' gets to follow in his footsteps."

The Youth Ballet's Nutcracker again will feature their award-winning dancers along with many of Ballet Society's youngest ballerinas. There will also be a number of professional dancers including two men from the highly-lauded dance program of the University of Wyoming. All told, there will be over 135 performers on stage.

"We'll tell the Nutcracker story in about an hour," said Hoffman. "With our Holiday Tea at the ballet's conclusion, it adds up to a perfect afternoon or evening for everyone-from age three to 93. But this version will add some favorite moments we haven't had in the past. We're going to battle this year! The mice and soldiers will march toward their inevitable conflict. There will be extra visits from other countries in the Land of Sweets. And with Erik's magic happening throughout the performance, we've enhanced a number of dances and storylines to match up. I can honestly say that our audience is going to be astounded and totally entertained by what we have in store for them!"
With all the new twists and turns, Tchaikovsky, in the person of local actor and arts enthusiast David Sckolnik, will still act as host. The Holiday Tea itself is receiving a makeover. There's always been a plethora of cookies, cakes, chocolates and confections for everyone to indulge in. This year, the dessert delights will be directly-inspired by all of the dances from the Land of Sweets.

The 2010-2011 Youth Ballet season also includes a Dec.5 guest performance in MOVE at Boulder's Dairy Center for the Arts for the Lemon Sponge Cake Dance School; a special performance of the Sorcerer's Apprentice for the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony's Pikes Peak Center Spring Concert on May 1; and two performances of a full length production of Cinderella on May 14- also in the Rampart High School Theatre.

Admission to A Nutcracker Ballet and Holiday Tea is $18 for children, 12 and under & senior citizens; and $22 for all others. A group rate of $18 is available for groups of 35 or more. Reservations are recommended. Tickets and information are available by calling the Ballet Society office at (719) 272-7078 or by email: Information on the Youth Ballet is available at Complete information about Ballet Society is available online at

Erik Bryan (Drosselmeyer) is well known to Southern Colorado audiences for his frequent leading role performances for Opera Theatre of the Rockies. This past February, he portrayed Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute. A baritone, Erik is equally at home on the musical theatre stage and was named "Best Actor in a Musical Role" by the Denver Post in their 2009 Ovation Awards for his performance as the Phantom in Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Phantom. Erik is also the co-creator of the National Renaissance Festival act Charming & Dashing in which he plays the role of Sir Charles Dashing. Erik was born in Colorado Springs to magicians John and Michèle Bryan. His first steps on the stage were at the age of four when he joined his parents in their magic act. He continues in the family tradition-Erik is a master of illusion and sleight of hand.

Photos are from the Dec. 2009, A Nutcracker Ballet and Holiday Tea and feature Colorado Youth Ballet performers. All are available as high-res images upon request. All photos in this release are credited to Ted Mehl/A Better Image Photography

Who: Colorado Youth Ballet, actor and magician Erik Bryan and actor David Sckolnik
What: A Nutcracker Ballet and Holiday Tea: The 7th annual holiday presentation from Colorado Youth Ballet features a revised version of the Nutcracker Ballet presented by the great Tchaikovsky himself (Sckolnik) and featuring a real magician as Drosselmeyer (Bryan). All are treated to a delicious Holiday Tea of sweets and refreshments following the ballet.
Where: Rampart High School Theatre, 8250 Lexington Drive, Colorado Springs
When: Saturday, Dec. 18 at 1:00 and 5:00pm Sunday, Dec. 19 at 1:00 and 5:00pm Monday, Dec. 20 at 7 pm And Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 7 pm
Tickets: $22, $18 for children (12 and under) and senior citizens.

Group discounts available Available by calling (719) 272-7078 (Ballet Society studio) or by email at - Reservations accepted. General information about Ballet Society is available at
Information on the Youth Company is available at

Ballet Society Students Excel

Angela Wood's performance at the Royal Opera House in London has captured the attention of the ballet world. "We are all so thrilled with Angela's success." said Patricia Hoffman Founder and Artistic Director of Angela's home studio-Ballet Society of Colorado Springs. "When our students go on to pursue further education or careers in dance or related fields or simply take what they've learned here and apply it to their lives in other ways, it is very rewarding."

This year several Ballet Society students head into their future full of confidence and enthusiasm to reach their life goals. Here are quick snap shots of a few:

Heide Pals (18) has been a dancer at Ballet Society and with its performing company, Colorado Youth Ballet, for the past two years. She is headed to the University of Colorado at Boulder to major in Integrative Physiology and International Affairs. "Ballet gave me a passion for the things I love," she said. "As a dancer you spend hours working to perfect a small detail. It really takes patience and drive, and teaches you how to be disciplined." Besides being an award winning dancer, she was president of the National Honor Society at Colorado Springs Christian School and will be living in the honors dorm at CU this fall. Undeterred by recent violent attacks in the Middle East, she hopes to one day become a humanitarian doctor in India or Pakistan. "I’m really going to miss our group huddles before performances encouraging one another to give our best."

Tyler Gum (20) is already dancing professionally after assuming principle roles during his high school years with Ballet Society and the Youth Ballet. "Being at Ballet Society was very encouraging," said Tyler, "I want to be a principal dancer in a ballet company and dancing there really gave me the tools I needed to reach my goals." This is Tyler’s second year with Utah's Ballet West II, and last Christmas he was featured in their Nutcracker (he had performed the lead Russian in the Youth Ballet's A Nutcracker Ballet and Holiday Tea the year before). Tyler was invited back to Colorado Springs this past April to perform a solo for the Colorado Springs Dance Theatre's 'Success of the Springs' which features locals who have excelled in the world of dance. "Thinking back to my time at Ballet Society I loved getting to do Firebird with Angela (Wood) and helping with props. I enjoyed having Ballet Society as part of my daily life and always looked forward to going to class." His awards include: Full scholarships to Pacific Northwest Ballet, ABT, and Harid Conservatory summer programs; 1st place at Denver Ballet Guild; and 1st place at Youth American Grand Prix.

Julianna Bicki (19) is planning for a dance career and recently signed a contract with Texas Ballet Theatre in Dallas. "Ballet Society helped me prepare myself for my professional career," she said, "It has impacted my life as being a constant reminder to be true to who I am and as an artist." Julianna performed principal roles in Youth Ballet performances including A Mid Summer Night's Dream at the Pikes Peak Center with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. She was awarded scholarships from Esther Geoffrey Young Dancers' Competition in Colorado Springs; the Denver Ballet Guild; Full scholarship to Walnut Hill Summer Intensive; $38,000 Scholarship to Walnut Hill School; and a Full Scholarship to Texas Ballet Theater 2010 summer intensive.

Erika Yeager (18) was also featured in principle roles in several Youth Ballet performances including being cast as Cinderella. Erika is headed off to Colorado State University this fall as a dance major and hopes to one day join a professional dance company with a contemporary focus. "Such good training, like I received at Ballet Society, definitely made a career in dance an option for me," she said. "The teaching is top notch, very intense-but also in a very loving environment and I'll never forget when Stella Abrera and Sascha Radetsky (of American Ballet Theatre) performed with the Youth Ballet at our first performance at the Pikes Peak Center."

Paige Hupy (18) is headed off to the Ivy League this fall. At Princeton University she plans to minor in Dance Studies. At Ballet Society she was featured in Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, and A Mid Summer Night's Dream, as well as The Many Colors of Doctor Seuss with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. She was also a scholarship award winner from Esther Geoffrey Young Dancers' Competition in Colorado Springs and from Denver Ballet Guild.

Sarah Turner (18) is leaving for Jackson, Mississippi this month and will continue to pursue both her dreams of dance and missionary work as part of the trainee program at the world's leading Christian ballet company, Ballet Magnificat! In this program, she will be in fulltime dance training and learn how to share her faith and artistic insights with audiences after performances.

"The truth of the matter is, it's a small percentage of the students who walk into a dance studio that will realize the level of success Angela is experiencing," said Hoffman, "But we feel honored to be part of the achievements of so many outstanding students at Ballet Society. It's very exciting to see what our dancers go on to accomplish even when it doesn't happen to be dance related."

For more information about programs and classes at the Ballet Society of Colorado Springs, stop by the studio at 4005 Lee Vance View, Suite 100, in Colorado Springs, call the office at: 719.272.7078, or visit the Colorado Youth Ballet website at

Article by Donna Lorrig

Heide Pals as Sugar Plum in Colorado Youth Ballet's 'A Nutcracker Ballet and Holiday Tea' Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography Tyler Gum at Salt Flats, Utah Photo by Luke Isley Julianna Bicki in studio at Ballet Society of Colorado Springs Erika Yeager dancing Balanchine's ‘Valse Fantaisie' with Colorado Youth Ballet Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography Paige Hupy in Colorado Youth Ballet's 'Firebird' Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography Sarah Turner in Colorado Youth Ballet's 'Cinderella' Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

A Leap Toward Fame

Colorado Springs Dancer Shines at London's Royal Opera House A student of the Ballet Society, Angela Wood, 18, begins her professional career with one of Great Britain's leading companies: the English National Ballet.

 Colorado Springs Gazette July 30th, 2010    Photo by: Johann Persson

By Donna Lorrig

The Royal Opera House is packed. Even standing-room-only spaces for The Royal Ballet School's season ending performance have been sold out for weeks. As the lights dim, the vocal hum is silenced by the curtain rising. For this afternoon is all about dreams being realized. It all began with the dream of Dame Ninette de Valois the visionary, who established a school to train the best ballet dancers in the world from which arose great ballet stars, including Margot Fonteyn. Then there are the shared dreams of the graduating students on stage today who will begin professional careers upon completion of this performance at some of the most prestigious dance companies in the world.

Yet, even amidst this display of quality and grace there is a particular standout on stage. Cast as the lead in two of the show pieces is Angela Wood, an 18-year-old who hails from Colorado Springs. Her pirouettes, partnering and leaps receive admiring appreciation from the audience and each bow is greeted with more enthusiastic applause. The accolades will no doubt continue as Angela now begins her professional career with one of Great Britain's leading companies-The English National Ballet.

Having begun her dance training here in Colorado Springs at age 10, Angela enjoyed plenty of local success. "I had a tremendous opportunity through my training at Ballet Society (of Colorado Springs) to develop my artistry through some incredible experiences," said Angela. "Starting when I was twelve I was given the chance to dance some leading roles including, Swanhilda in the ballet "Coppelia," Princess Aurora in "Sleeping Beauty," Odette in "Swan Lake," Cinderella, Firebird, Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy in "Nutcracker." I can never say enough for how the time I spent at Ballet Society changed my life."

During her 7 years at Ballet Society, Angela earned numerous dance scholarship awards including multiple Colorado Springs Dance Theatre's Esther Geoffrey Awards and Denver Ballet Guild Scholarship Competitions. She also attended summer intensives at Ballet Magnificat! in Jackson, Mississippi; Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in New York; Ballet Austin in Texas, Canada's National Ballet School in Toronto. In the fall of 2008 she also toured briefly with the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's Nutcracker. Clearly, here was a rising star in our midst.

"In all honesty I'm not surprised at all that Angela has achieved this extraordinary level of success," said Patricia Hoffman, the Founder and Artistic Director of Ballet Society of Colorado Springs who attended the Royal Opera House performance. "From the moment she stepped into the studio, it was obvious that she was a special talent. When it became evident that she had the work ethic to match, I knew that she would one day have the chance to dance onto the world stage. But I would be lying if I didn't admit how thrilling it was to see her in the limelight in London."

It was January 2009 when Angela, at age 17, leapt from the local into the international dance scene. Within hours of her first class at The Royal Ballet School she was accepted into their program. From that moment on Angela has been realizing her dream. Over the last 18 months she has performed several times with The Royal Ballet School, including a special performance before Prince Charles and his wife Lady Camilla, and touring to Japan; receiving prestigious scholarships and awards; and before graduation signing her first full-time working dance contract with The English National Ballet.

"In December of 2007 I'm teaching a Master Class in Colorado Springs at Ballet Society when I see this girl stretching on the bar," said Estonian Meelis Pakri, a faculty member for The Royal Ballet School's upper division. "I'm thinking, she must be a professional dancer in to take class. "I watch her, give a few corrections, and talk with her afterwards." Pakri felt she not only had the talent and training needed to be a professional dancer, but also all the tools necessary to make ballet into a successful career. "Angela is special. Even in class it is like she is onstage already."

Even with this tremendous recommendation, Angela didn't immediately head to London. "We really wanted Angela to stay reasonably close to us if possible," said Tricia Wood, Angela's mother. "She spent a month-long audition at Canada's National Ballet School and went to New York City for a special audition with the Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis School, the training program for American Ballet Theatre. But it was not until she submitted an audition DVD to the Royal Ballet School, almost exactly one year after first being seen by Mr. Pakri, and was invited to attend a one week audition at the Royal that we felt real peace about her direction. Although we loved that we had been able to have her train right here in town for so many years, Patty (Hoffman) urged us to give her the chance to be seen internationally."

"We have a philosophy at Ballet Society to help our students achieve their dance dreams," said Hoffman. "Angela dreams big and really is the 'whole package' for a dancer: talent, determination, focus, dedication and stage presence. I felt a huge obligation to help her succeed and knew she was prepared to have her career launched from an international venue. It certainly seems our prayers were answered." This young dancer is now to be found in the Corps de Ballet of the English National Ballet.

"I'm just taking it one day at a time," said Angela. "There is still so much I have yet to learn, and I'm looking forward to working with some truly great artists. I'm so blessed that some of my dreams have turned into reality."

 Don't be surprised to find her name on the marquee in the coming years.

PDF Document Ballerina Learns to Stretch (PDF - 275K)
Ballet Society of Colorado Springs dancers, ages 13-18  The (Colorado Springs) Gazette
Holiday Planner: 'Tis the season  The (Colorado Springs) Gazette
PDF Document Graceful Teens Sweep Local Competitions (PDF - 59K)
Holiday Planner: 'Tis the season  The (Colorado Springs) Gazette
A Nutcracker Ballet and Holiday Tea
Day of family fun includes classical ballets  The (Colorado Springs) Gazette
PDF Document BSCS School Brings Magic - The Gazette (PDF - 13K)
PDF Document State of the Arts - The Gazette (PDF - 13K)
PDF Document Holiday Tea News Article (PDF - 13K)
PDF Document Black Forest Girl earns Lead Role in Nutcracker
'Nutcracker' opportunities still abound The (Colorado Springs) Gazette
PDF Document The Art of Summer (PDF - 2,594K)
Springs Culture Cast News Report on Hansel and Gretel
PDF Document A Ballet Fairytale (PDF - 166K)
PDF Document Seven Days - Cinderella (PDF - 65K)
PDF Document State and Local Award Winners 2006-07 (PDF -78K)
A Wolf by the Ears Colorado Springs Independent

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Photo credits for images on this site: J. Miller Adam, Dave Black, Bill Buckman, Brian Clifford, Tom Darnell, Lam Ha, Judith Kimbrell, Donna Lorrig, Ted Mehl, and Peter Strand
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