'Nutcracker' star hooked on ballet

December 07, 1990|By J. L. Conklin

'The Nutcracker'

Where: Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium, Dulaney Valley Road, Towson.

When: Fridays, Dec. 7 and 14, at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Dec. 8 and 15, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays, Dec. 9 and 16, at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Tickets: $18 for matinee performances, $20 for evening performances. Senior, student and group discounts are available.

Call: 576-2400. The Nutcracker ballet has always been associated with the magic of dreams come true. And for one 13-year-old dancer this year, the dream of being a ballerina is being realized.

Rebecca Leidig, of Linthicum, will dance the role of Clara, the young girl who dreams of the Nutcracker Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy in the upcoming Maryland Ballet's Baltimore production of the holiday ballet. This opportunity grew out of her performance last season as Maria, Clara's sister in the company's debut production.

Becky, a Lindale Junior High School eighth-grader, said she was "shocked and excited" when she learned she had been cast as Clara. The youngest of six children, she has been enrolled in dance classes with Edna Lee Kuhn in Glen Burnie since she was 6. She also takes the intermediate class at the Maryland Ballet.

"I enjoyed dancing but I never took much interest in it until last year, when I was in the Nutcracker," she said. But now -- perhaps because of the excitement of being involved in a theatrical production or the sound of applause -- Becky is solidly hooked on ballet.

A polite and charming young woman, Becky takes her work seriously and hopes for a career in ballet. Maryland Ballet's artistic director Phillip Carman believes that she shows promise -- and he's not the only one. Becky came in fourth at the Cecchetti auditions held at Michigan State University last spring.

The Cecchetti Method is a set of techniques developed by Enrico Cecchetti during his career as ballet master at the Imperial Theater in St. Petersberg (now Leningrad). It teaches stage deportment and focuses on the rudimentary aspects of techniques, teaching a series of exercises geared to develop particular muscles and strengthen specific techniques. Becky admits this has strengthened her dancing.

The Nutcracker ballet has become a holiday tradition ever since it was first performed in the United States 50 years ago in New York City. Despite myriad interpretations -- every company choreographer puts his or her stamp on the work, and Mr. Carman is no exception -- there is one constant that draws audiences to this fable of holiday magic: the children who take part in the performance.

The production by the Maryland Ballet includes 30 children from the Maryland Ballet School.

"The children are just wonderful," says Mr. Carman. "Performing often gives them that extra spark of interest that can make a difference in their attitude towards ballet."

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