Teen dances with Chelsea Clinton

December 17, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

President Clinton wasn't the only proud father watching his child perform in the Washington Ballet production of "The Nutcracker" on Saturday.

Manchester Town Manager Terry Short also brimmed with pride as his son, Nathan, 15, danced alongside Chelsea Clinton and the other professionals and students at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Nathan Short plays the role of "teen-age boy." Miss Clinton plays "the favorite aunt."

Silver Run teen Lauren Jewell also appears in the ballet, playing one of the toy soldiers. Last year, Miss Jewell played the lead role, "Clara."

An Associated Press photo of the dress rehearsal Dec. 8, showing Nathan Short, Miss Clinton and others, appeared on the front page of the New York Times Dec. 10.

The photo was displayed prominently in the Manchester town hall this week.

The Miami Herald ran another photo, Mr. Short said, and the dancers also appeared on CNN-TV.

President Clinton attended Saturday night's performance, in which Chelsea and Nathan appeared.

How did it feel to dance for the commander-in-chief?

"It felt like opening night," said Nathan.

He said the excitement created enough adrenalin that "I wasn't scared, but I wasn't mellow."

Mr. Short, who worked backstage with other parents during the performance, said the young performers "just exploded on stage" that night. Even the youngest dancers knew they had performed especially well, he said.

"Chelsea came off [stage] with the biggest smile," Mr. Short said.

One factor that helped on Saturday, Mr. Short said, was that the Secret Service kept the lights turned up higher than normal, which enabled the dancers to see farther into the audience than usual.

"They all looked out at the audience like they're supposed to," he said, instead of looking down at their feet.

Some were rewarded with a glimpse of President Clinton.

Otherwise, Mr. Short said, no fuss was made.

"You'd never know she [Chelsea] was there," he said. "Chelsea fits in like everyone else."

The Secret Service agents, he said, "Haven't been obtrusive, but you know they're there."

He said he and another parent posted at a stage door challenged two strangers who appeared backstage -- only to learn they were Secret Service agents on patrol.

Nathan a 10th-grader at Damascus High School, has danced for eight years. He said he hopes to dance professionally when he is older.

He travels from Damascus to the Washington School of Ballet every weekday for classes that last 90 minutes or 2 1/2 hours.

To reach the school, he takes a bus from Damascus to the Metro, then rides Metro, then catches another bus to the school.

This "Nutcracker" was his third. He has also performed in a modern dance concert at the Kennedy Center, and once had a walk-on part in a Stuttgart Ballet production of "Cinderella."

What is Chelsea like?

"Just like any other person," Nathan said. "She's an interesting character."

He said he meant she was pleasant to talk with and has a good understanding of a wide range of subjects.

"The Nutcracker" runs through Dec. 26 at the Warner Theatre.

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