Patuxent Youth Ballet will bring `Nutcracker' excerpts to Savage

NEIGHBORS

November 12, 1999|By Lourdes Sullivan | Lourdes Sullivan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THINGS HAVE been moving rather quickly for Kristin Mesa.

The owner of the Patuxent Youth Ballet School and her students are putting on a performance of excerpts from "The Nutcracker" at the Savage library Dec. 11. The school on Guilford Road in Jessup is in its fourth year, and its owner is still surprised at the turn her life has taken.

"Life throws you different directions," she said. "You make all your plans, and then you wind up living your life."

Mesa had wanted to be a dancer, and her parents supported that dream. She received a Ford Foundation scholarship and studied with the American Ballet Theatre.

Then she hurt her ankle and couldn't continue as a professional ballerina. She could no longer do pointe work, an intrinsic part of ballet.

When her family moved to Maryland, she enrolled at the University of Maryland and got a degree in modern dance.

The vagaries of a full life soon followed.

She met David Mesa, a wonderful man, she says, and married him. She raised three children, home-schooling her children, Rebecca, 16; Sarah, 19, a student at the University of Maryland; and son Jesse, 7. And she continued to dance and to teach locally.

Four years ago, when her youngest was 3, her husband decided to open his own business, preparing documents for printing, in Savage Mill. He rented a space that was larger than he needed, in case the business expanded.

Kristin took the space over as a practice area.

"He had one way to come in, and I had another," she said. Soon, she began to take in students. "We put in a little studio for very young students," she said.

Kristin hoped to attract younger students because two dance schools in the area already served more mature dancers.

For a former New York City Ballet student, she has a surprisingly relaxed approach to dance.

"Everybody should be able to enjoy dance," she says. "It doesn't have to be pursued at a manic level. [A student] shouldn't feel like a failure if you haven't gotten into a company."

After two years in Savage Mill, when both businesses needed more space, the Mesas moved to the Jessup area.

Two dance studios nearby closed, and Kristin persuaded Betty Gooding, owner of one of the studios, to teach jazz and tap classes for her. Teachers from the Central Maryland School of Ballet also joined her staff -- including Katie Schall, who brought with her an enthusiasm for "The Nutcracker."

And now, following Schall's lead, Patuxent Youth Ballet is performing excerpts of the classic at the Savage and Elkridge libraries this season.

Kristin hopes to perform the whole ballet, but for now she is just getting her feet wet. The ballet involves considerable expense, because a large cast and many costumes are required. Fortunately, support is coming from the dancers' mothers, who are sewing the outfits.

Special thanks go to sewer and mother Tammy Jensen. Her daughter Morgan, 7, plays Clara, the heroine of the piece.

The Patuxent Youth Ballet School is a family sort of place.

"It's so wonderful," Kristin says, describing how she enjoys her work. "I tell my dad it's incredible to have a job to skip to."

The school will perform at the Savage library at 11 a.m. Dec. 11. Morgan Jensen, Jesse Mesa, Schall and Ariana Kruzic, 13, are the featured dancers.

Reservations are required and will be accepted after Nov. 27.

Information: 410-880-5978.

School doings

Time to catch up on the doings at area schools before the mad holiday rush begins.

Congratulations to Bollman Bridge Elementary fifth-graders Nicole DeVito and Natalie Yelenik and fourth-graders Michele Morstein and Taylor Zick, who have been selected for the Howard County Children's Chorus.

Murray Hill Middle School, the newest in our area, has some terrific programs. Special mention goes to the art department and seventh-graders who made masks based on those of the Baga people in Africa.

Brionne Bradley's parents brought in masks from Ghana to share with her classmates.

Craft fair

Come one and all to Bollman Bridge Elementary School's Craft Fair from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. tomorrow.

Among the holiday items, crafts, doll clothes and toys is a gift just right for that certain someone.

The event will be held at the school, at Vollmerhausen and Savage-Guilford roads.

Get ready for baseball

It may seem a bit early to register children for the spring baseball season, but it is necessary.

Phil DeVito, who handles some of the registration for the Savage Boys and Girls Club, reports that club membership is growing so quickly that a lot of planning is needed to get everyone on a team.

Children interested in playing and parents interested in coaching should call the club at 301-604-8308.

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