Step out to a holiday dance festival

Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre is kicking off the holiday season with a daylong festival featuring interactive dance classes for children, live instrumental music and choral singing and culminating with a professional ballet performance Sunday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

“A Holiday Nutcracker Festival” begins at noon showcasing the Ballet Folklorico Mexico Azteca, Taft High School Ensemble choir, Pete Ellison's One World Rhythm and Burbank Community Theatre actors performing scenes from their upcoming production of “Annie.” Children can make ornaments for their Christmas tree and adults will get early shopping done by visiting gift vendors.

“What we want to do is get everybody excited about the holidays,” said Artistic Director Natasha Middleton.

Characters from “The Nutcracker” ballet will lead short dance classes for children starting at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. on the Alex stage.

The professional ballet performance begins at 7 p.m. with a segment called “Les Patineurs” or “The Skaters,” danced to music composed by Giacomo Meyerbeer and arranged by Constant Lambert with original choreography by Frederick Ashton.

The story is set on an ice pond, where couples are skating around and a young boy races across the ice showing off. One couple, played by Michael A. Hamilton and Kristen, will dance a pas de deux, Middleton said.

“It's a really hard piece for the dancers — probably one of the hardest we have ever done because the girls are on toe and there a lot of fast skating turns and they have to glide around on the ice — so it's challenging for them.”

Following intermission, the leading artists of Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre will dance highlights from Tchaikovsky's “The Nutcracker”.

Dancing the role of Clara is Alexandria “Lexi” Wong, 16, who started with the ballet company when she was 4, Middleton said.

“She's really excited because she is finally able to do a role she's wanted to do all her life. She is really becoming quite an amazing dancer.”

Lexi started out playing a toy doll in the company's early “Nutcracker” performances and came up through the ranks.

Jackson Bradshaw, 17, will dance the role of the Nutcracker Prince.

“They have become quite a team,” Middleton says of Lexi and Bradshaw. “They work day and night rehearsing. They are doing a lot more partner dances in this show because they are both so capable.”

The festival is sponsored in part by the Glendale Downtown Merchants Assn. Other organizations collaborating on the festival with the ballet company are the Arthritis Foundation, Glendale Healthy Kids, YWCA and Autism Speaks.

Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre, formerly known as the Media City Ballet Company, was formed in Burbank in 2001 by Middleton, whose grandmother danced with the Ballet Russe, and her father, Andrei Tremaine, with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

The company's name was changed to honor Middleton's father who founded the former Pacific Ballet Theatre in Los Angeles. Middleton added the word Dance to the name of her company, she said, because her dancers perform classical Russian ballet repertoire as well as contemporary styles. Middleton has produced contemporary programs for three consecutive years at the John Anson Ford Theatre. Middleton is also the school director of the Media City Dance Studio in Downtown Burbank.
What: “A Holiday Nutcracker Festival”

Where: Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd, Glendale

When: Dec. 1, beginning at noon; ballet performance at 7 p.m.

Tickets: $25 to $65

More info: (818) 243-2539,


JOYCE RUDOLPH can be contacted at

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