‘The Nutcracker’ Takes Over Long Island
Performances at Stony Brook University
The Seiskaya Ballet of St. James will perform “The Nutcracker” at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts.
The Sagona family of Huntington is very involved with Seiskaya’s “Nutcracker” this year. Taking on the roles of Herr and Frau Stalhbaum are Philip and Hayley Sagona. Hayley, a stage veteran, is delighted to have been selected.
“The Party Scene is a real party. Instead of a patchwork of dance segments, as is often the case, the choreography flows seamlessly,” Hayley said in a press release.
The couple’s oldest daughter, Girie, will play Clara for two shows and their youngest daughter, Graciela, will perform as a guest in the party scene.
A Harborfields High School senior, dancing the role of Clara is a dream come true for Girie.
“I actually started ballet training a lot later than most students so I have had to really struggle to catch up,” she said. “In Seiskaya Ballet’s production, Clara is the central figure and dances en pointe throughout. Acting is as much a part of the role as is ballet technique which makes it different from Dew Drop or Snow Queen. You add your own personality.”
Girie said she had a great apprenticeship last year dancing as a Friend of Fritz and Clara, so this year seems a natural fit.
“To top things off, I am on stage with my family plus I had my choice of costumes. It doesn’t get any better,” she said.
A first soloist with the company, Girie recently earned a compliment from Artistic Director Valia Seiskaya.
“Girie has a beautiful quality of movement. She visualizes the music and exudes emotion really connecting with the audience. She’s a lovely Clara,” the artistic director said.
Younger sister Graciela, an aspiring dancer, will also appear as a Soldier, an Angel and en pointe as one of Bo Peep’s Sheep in addition to a guest in the party scene. She is a sixth-grader at Oldfield Middle School.
Aside from ballet, the four siblings have another thing in common: they are all honors students.
“Being a high school senior,” said Girie, “is bittersweet because Dec. 23 will be my last ‘Nutcracker’ while I’m in high school. Then again, it’s a party, and it is my 18th birthday!”
Both of the family’s sons, Renaldo and Ricardo, also have roles in the performance. Renaldo Sagona will play the Butler and Ricardo Sagona appears in the battle scene.
“It is exciting to have the whole family together on stage. It will be a memory for a lifetime,” noted Philip Sagona in a press release.
Performances are scheduled for Friday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 22 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; and Monday, Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $40 for adults, $34 for seniors and children and $30 each for groups of 20 or more. Tickets can be purchased at the Staller Center Box Office at 631-632-ARTS or at www.nutcrackerballet.com.
Performances at Hofstra University
Two young ladies from the Town of Huntington are set to perform in this year’s presentation of “The Nutcracker” by Commack-based New York Dance Theater under the direction of Frank Ohman.
Alexis McCray, 11, of Dix Hills, and Marisa Daddazio, 12, of Commack, will be splitting the role of “Fritz.” Each girl will perform as Fritz in three of six performances that will take place at Hofstra University over the weekend of Dec. 20-22.
McCray is a sixth-grader at West Hollow Middle School and Daddazio is a seventh-grader at Trinity Regional School in East Northport.
“They’re very dedicated and they work hard,” Ohman, founder and artistic director of New York Dance Theater, Inc. and the Frank Ohman School of Ballet, said of the young Town of Huntington residents.
“We’ve been rehearsing since September and they know exactly what they’re doing and they’re so good,” Ohman said. “They’re smart and talented children – very talented – and they love what they’re doing. They’re just thrilled to be in [the performance] and they study with me personally.”
Ohman is an established veteran in the ballet world. He began his career in 1959 with the San Francisco Ballet, and in 1962, he made his way to the east coast and joined the New York City Ballet.
During his 22 years as a soloist with the New York City Ballet, Ohman was mentored by George Balanchine. Balanchine, who has been called one of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century, recreated “The Nutcracker” by introducing children into the ballet.
Ohman founded the Frank Ohman School of Ballet in 1979, which is now located in Commack. He has been putting on performances of “The Nutcracker” since 1982.
“My ‘Nutcracker’ is based after Mr. Balanchine’s of the New York City Ballet,” Ohman said. “I brought city ballet out here in a way with my school. When I first started out here [on Long Island], there was only like one other company doing ‘The Nutcracker.’”
This is the New York Dance Theater’s 32nd annual production of “The Nutcracker.”
Ohman continues Balanchine’s tradition of allowing children to fill major roles in the performance. He even added scenes and music to his production to allow the children to dance more and practice more choreography.
“The children who are in it dance a lot,” Ohman said. “I put them to work. They actually do choreography. I train them to dance.”
The New York Dance Theater’s production of “The Nutcracker” is one of the few that are still consistent with Balanchine’s version. It is also unique due to its added scenes, making it about 15 minutes longer than most other productions of “The Nutcracker,” according to Ohman.
The ballet master kept the music he added to his version of “The Nutcracker” consistent with its original score, by utilizing songs written by its original composer, Tchaikovsky.
“His music is very danceable,” Ohman said. “It’s very balletic.”
According to the dance company, its performance is the largest on Long Island with a cast of 80 performers including children, semi-professional and professional dancers.
Guest artists, including two from the Dance Theatre of Harlem, will also join in the show.
Both McCray and Daddazio were chosen along with five other children Ohman School children to perform with the Dance Theatre of Harlem this past May.
Performances will take place at Hofstra University in Hempstead on Friday, Dec. 20 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and on Saturday, Dec. 21 and Sunday, Dec. 22 at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets are $40, or $33 for seniors and children 12 and under. For the Dec. 20 show at 2 p.m., tickets are $20 for all ages. Tickets can be purchased at www.ohmanballet.org or by calling 631-462-0964.
The Lynch School of Ballet
Performances at Huntington High School
The Lynch School of Ballet of Huntington presents its fifth annual “Nutcracker” production at Huntington High School on Saturday, Dec. 21 and Sunday, Dec. 22.
One-hundred-fifty Lynch School of Ballet dancers along with guest performers will take the stage.
Matthew Donnell, formerly of Kansas City Ballet, will star in the role of Cavalier. Trent Kowalik, who won a Tony Award for his performance in “Billy Elliot,” will star as the male Soldier Doll. And, Lynch Ballet Company alumna Alyssa Brogan of the Adelphi University dance department will take on the role of the Sugarplum Fairy.
The 2013 Lynch Ballet Company production expects to wow audiences with not only performances, but also costumes. Madeline Hinkis, former costume mistress of the American Ballet Theater II, has designed the costumes.
The Lynch Ballet Company has generously donated 200 tickets to families in need in the Huntington Union Free school district.
Performances will take place Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 22 at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children. They are for sale at the Lynch Ballet Box Office at 631-942-3933.
Performances at SUNY Old Westbury
The Lumiere Ballet will perform its 16th production of “The Nutcracker” on Saturday, Dec. 21 and Sunday, Dec. 22 at SUNY Old Westbury’s Maguire Theater.
This “Nutcracker” cast includes award-winning students as well as professional dancers.
The Lumiere Ballet is located in Bay Shore and performs throughout Long Island, New York City and the tri-state area, drawing many students from the Town of Huntington area.
Students practice year-round in professional training programs.
The company is led by Svetlana Caton, founder and artistic co-director of Lumière Ballet. Her background and training is of the Russian Ballet. At the age of 12, she participated in the esteemed Concours de Danse, which led to a scholarship offer at the school of the Paris Opera and an invitation to study with ballet legends. She has performed professionally in Europe and the United States, and has been teaching for 30 years.
Venti Petrov is Lumiere Ballet’s second artistic co-director. He is a national and international award-winner. Petrov graduated from The National Choreographic Institute of Sofia, Bulgaria. From there, he moved to New York and became an American citizen in 2001. He has worked with legendary dancers all over the world and has performed in more than 20 states in the U.S. He also has premiered his own original ballets in Manhattan and has released four CDs for ballet classes.
The Lumiere Ballet will present its version of “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. and on Dec. 22 at 2 p.m. at SUNY Old Westbury’s Maguire Theater. Tickets are $30 general admission and $25 for seniors and children under 16.
For more information visit www.lumiereballet.com or call 631-586-2921.
Performances at the Tilles Center
Under the artistic direction of Laszlo Berdo, Eglevsky Ballet continues its annual tradition of “The Nutcracker.” Performances will be held at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, LIU Post on Friday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 21 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 22 at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.
An opening night reception following Friday’s performance will toast the guest artists. Reservations are recommended and there is a suggested donation of $65. After the Saturday 11 a.m. performance, attend a Meet and Greet with the dancers where audience members can ask the dancers questions and take photographs.
Lia Cirio and Nelson Madrigal, principal dancers of the Boston Ballet, will dance the roles of Sugar Plum and Cavalier, respectively. Cirio and Madrigal will join a cast of professional dancers from throughout the country, as well as talented dance students from the Eglevsky Ballet Training Program.
Melville’s Sarah Gavilla of West Hollow Middle School will be dancing the role of Clara in two of the five shows: the Saturday, Dec. 21, 11 a.m. show and the Sunday, Dec. 22 show at noon. During the other three shows, she will fill the role of a Polichinelle.
Tickets for Eglevsky Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” range from $27-$82. Group discounts are available. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Tilles Center Box Office, located at 720 Northern Boulevard in Brookville, online at www.tillescenter.org, or by phone at 516-299-3100.