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Volunteers balance ballet act

Jackson Bell

While audience members strolled into The Alex Theatre courtyard and

mingled before the premiere of “The Nutcracker” on Sunday, volun-

teers rushed to ready the set and talent before the curtains rose.


A group of preteen performers huddled around Burbank resident

Christy Baptist as she applied makeup, fixed costumes and helped calm

stage fright in the theater’s dressing room minutes before the show.

But Baptist gave the most attention to her 13-year-old daughter


Amara, who played one of the main character’s friends.

“I just always get involved this way,” she said. “And I’m always

willing to help because this is a fabulous opportunity for my

daughter to dance with a professional ballet company.”

Baptist is among nearly 50 parents and community members who have

worked tirelessly for more than a month to build sets, create

costumes, raise funds and help the Burbank-based Media City Ballet in

any way they can to prepare for its first feature-length performance.


The story of “The Nutcracker” is about Clara, a young girl who is

given a nutcracker doll by her godfather, Dr. Drosselmeyer, on

Christmas Eve. The magical toy comes to life in her dreams and, after

she saves him from The Mouse King, he transforms into a prince.

Natasha Middleton, artistic director of the fledgling ballet

company, said the volunteers’ efforts were vital in producing “The


“We have a wonderful group of volunteers who believe in the


company and help us grow,” Middleton said. “A lot of people came out

of the woodwork to help us out.”

Ellen Rosa, a principal dancer who plays the Sugar Plum Fairy,

said her costumes, made by volunteers, were “exquisitely designed.”

“This was above and beyond parent involvement,” Rosa said. “The

show could not have been a success without their dedication. They

made the show come together.”

Tina Shinn volunteered to make about 13 costumes because she

wanted the best for her 13-year-old daughter, Jessica, a dancer in

the show.

"[The ballet company] can’t afford to pay for the costumes and

such needed for the dancers, so I was happy to help,” Shinn said.