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Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 38
Everybody Can Dance and the Santa Maria Civic Ballet showcase generations of talent in 'The Nutcracker'
BY JOE PAYNE
Diane Zink started her local nonprofit dance studio, Everybody Can Dance, 28 years ago. Even in the first year, the company presented a production of the ballet masterpiece The Nutcracker, with music by Tchaikovsky. The first production was abridged, but the production has since then grown every year in one way or another, from the size of the ensemble to the choreography.
“Diane formed the Santa Maria Civic Ballet about six years ago for the advanced and returning dancers,” said Carole Zink, marketing director for Everybody Can Dance and mother of Diane. “She brings in professionals to perform and partner with these advanced dancers.”
Diane began calling in nearby professional dancers to help with her Nutcracker productions in order to give her more advanced students chances to dance with professional-grade artists. Last year’s guest artist Sayat Asatryan will be returning this year to play the Nutcracker Prince and the Cavalier. But he won’t be coming alone—he will be bringing his 4-year-old daughter to dance as well.
“Sayat is formerly from the Moscow Kremlin Ballet; he had very good training,” said Carole. “He now lives in California and he and his wife run a ballet academy in Encinitas.”
Asatryan and his daughter won’t be the only family members sharing the stage in The Nutcracker. Many Everybody Can Dance students have parents in the Santa Maria Civic Ballet who will be performing with their kids. Three generations of the Zink family will take the stage: Diane, her father Karl Zink, and her daughter Juliet Peck. Many parents, if they can’t make the stage, will help in other ways.
“The parents have helped a great deal with the props and the costumes,” Carole said. “One dancer, Ron Miller, his mother sewed him a beautiful period piece with the ruffled sleeves.”
The combination of mature and discipline students and dedicated and involved parents has helped the annual production improve each year, Carole explained.
“Every year the costumes get better and better,” she said. “The parents and kids put in a lot of creativity and time.”
The Nutcracker is a unique production in that it has parts for many ages, from small children to young adults to adults. Producing the show annually helps the dance students develop their craft in several ways.
“So every year the kids get to see the parts, see the older kids [dance], and aspire to that,” Carole explained. “I remember one year when one of the younger girls got … a part in the ‘Waltz of the Flowers;’ she and her parents were so proud because she had had her eye on that dance.”
There are many coveted roles in The Nutcracker, from the Sugar Plum Fairy to Clara, the little girl who receives the nutcracker as a gift.
“One year we had a girl playing Clara and there is the part of Fritz, Clara’s brother, and we let the girl’s younger brother play the part,” Carole said. “It’s fun to see because the characters have a little squabble, and even sometimes we will let the parents play the characters’ parents as well.”
Diane has also tried to mix things up each year by adding her own choreography. According to Carole, two of the selections remain the classic choreography, but the rest is her daughter’s work.
“She does her own choreography and it’s very creative,” she said. “Her ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ is very beautiful, something Walt Disney would have liked.”
Choreography can be difficult, especially for scenes like the opening of The Nutcracker, which depicts a party scene with several parents, children, and other guests.
“Some people have told us when they come to the performance that they never understood the story as well as when they see hers,” Carole said. “She does a good job about getting the story across, especially in the first act, which sets up the story.”
The concerted effort of each student, parent, and teacher makes for a production that reflects years of effort and practice.
“It’s evolved, it’s inspired, but it’s also enhanced,” Carole said. “Every year something is better.”
Arts Editor Joe Payne won’t be found in a leotard. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOLIDAY CHEER: The Everybody Can Dance studio and Santa Maria Civic Ballet's upcoming production of The Nutcracker will feature the efforts of several generations of dancers at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande.
VIDEO COURTESY OF EVERY BODY CAN DANCE DIRECTOR DIANE ZINK VIA YOUTUBE.COM