On the Town: Young trio twirls toward Land of the Sweets

On the Town: Young trio twirls toward Land of the Sweets
L.A. Youth Ballet members, from left, Irene Mkrtchian, Lauren Santia and Brooke Sinton, perform in "The Nutcracker" on Dec. 22 and 23 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. (Joyce Rudolph)

Three area residents are dancing in an all new production of “The Nutcracker” at the Alex Theatre as part of the L.A. Youth Ballet, which is the advanced youth ensemble of the Los Angeles Ballet Academy, based in Encino.

This world-premiere production set to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score has been recreated by award-winning choreographer Andrea Paris-Gutierrez, artistic director of the L.A. Youth Ballet.


The three performances will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 22 and 2 and 7 p.m. Dec 23.

Irene Mkrtchian, 9, whose grandmother lives in Glendale, has been taking ballet classes for three years.


In the past, she has performed as part of the ensemble in the ballet “Cinderella,” but this is her debut performance with L.A. Youth Ballet. She is one of the reindeer that brings the lead character, Clara, out on stage.

Her favorite part of ballet, she said, is Tchaikovsky’s music.

Lauren Santia, 17, will dance the role of the Dewdrop Fairy. The Burbank native is a senior at Providence High School. She has been a ballet student for 13 years and has been en pointe for seven.

She is considering majoring in ballet when she goes to college next year.

In March, Lauren passed the Royal Academy of Dance’s advanced exam with distinction and attended the Joffrey Ballet summer intensive program.

She was invited to join the Joffrey Ballet year-round trainee program in Chicago, but decided not to go so she could finish her senior year of high school.

In the past, she has performed in “Don Quixote,” “Giselle” and “Sleeping Beauty.”

Often “The Nutcracker” is the first production in which a young ballerina performs, but not for Lauren, she said.

“I think the ‘Nutcracker’ is just a tradition that everyone usually goes through when they are dancing. For me, this is actually my first time in all these years, so I’m actually excited to be a part of that tradition,” she said.

Brooke Sinton, 15, also of Burbank, started dancing at age 2½ at the Red Chair School of Performing Arts in Burbank, which is now RC Dance Center, and a few years ago transferred to the Los Angeles Ballet Academy.

She is a 10th-grader at Brighton Hall, a private school in Burbank, and she would like to become a professional ballerina.She also passed the Royal Academy of Dance’s advanced exam with distinction in March.

Last summer, she attended the Jillana summer intensive program in New Mexico, the Joffrey Ballet Chicago summer intensive program and the New Ballet School summer intensive program in Silicon Valley.

Brooke is very familiar with dancing in “The Nutcracker.”

“Like Lauren said, it’s a classic, and since this is my 10th year doing it, I never get tired of it,” she said. “It always has that magic to it and it’s a great story.”

She will perform the lead in the Chinese Tea Dance. As the story goes, after Clara and the Nutcracker finish off the Mouse King, the spell is broken and the Nutcracker turns back to being the prince. Clara and the prince travel to the Land of the Sweets, and the Sugar Plum Fairy throws a party featuring treats from around the world — chocolate from Spain, candy canes from Russia and tea from China.

This is the first time the youth ballet is performing “The Nutcracker” and, even though Brooke has done the Chinese Dance for nine years at the RC Dance Center, this one has new choreography.

“It still has a lot of the same elements because it’s a classic ballet, so there’s certain things that are carried through all versions, but there are subtle changes,” she said.

The production stars Joffrey Ballet principal dancers Jeraldine Mendoza as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Dylan Gutierrez as the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cavalier, and also features 13-year-old Darrion Sellman as the Nutcracker.

Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at the Alex Theatre Box Office at (818) 243-2539 or visit

‘Snow Queen’ ballet marks 20th anniversary

California Contemporary Ballet, a professional youth dance company, will present a special presentation of its ballet “The Snow Queen” this weekend at the Glendale Community College Theatre.

This year’s production marks a homecoming of the ballet because it was last produced in 2013, said Aerin Holt, artistic director and choreographer, who added that it is being brought back in celebration of its 20th anniversary.

During its hiatus, Holt created two new full-length ballets and several other concert works, adding to the company’s repertory.

In the past, “The Snow Queen” enjoyed 17 years of sold-out performances and is the company’s signature annual performance.

The ballet, adapted from Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, features Holt’s original choreography and is set to an original score by composer Randall Michael Tobin.

Show times will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $28 for adults and $23 for students in advance, and $33 for adults and $28 for students at the door.

For tickets, call (818) 790-7924.