Ballet Arkansas presents THE NUTCRACKER

One of the sure signs of the Christmas season is the return of The Nutcracker to ballet companies across America.  Ballet Arkansas presents the annual production this weekend on December 7, 8 and 9 at Robinson Center Music Hall.  (School performances are going on throughout the week.)

Celebrate the season with your professional ballet company as we continue a favorite Christmas tradition performing The Nutcracker accompanied by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Geoffrey Robson. Every year this fun field production creates lifelong memories for hundreds of Arkansas families. With gorgeous scenery, enchanting costumes and original choreography, Ballet Arkansas will present The Nutcracker at Robinson Center Music Hall on December 7th – 9th.

The Nutcracker tells the story of Clara and her magical nutcracker doll and their wondrous journey to the Land of Snow and Kingdom of Sweets. This year’s production boasts new choreography from Ballet Mistress, Marla Edwards, new to the company this season, as well as co-director Allison Stodola Wilson. These directors along with choreographers Traci Presley and Jana Beard have taken this much loved holiday favorite to new heights creating an enchanting production that will delight audience members of all ages.

This year’s production will feature the nine professional company members of Ballet Arkansas, comprised of Anna Maris (Arabian/Dew Drop), Sean Porter (Arabian/Russian/Rat King), Lauren McCarty Horak (Spanish/Marzipan), Paul Tillman (Snow King/Russian), Katchiri Tillman (Snow Queen/Marzipan), Amanda Sewell (Doll/Marzipan), Laurel Dix (Chinese), Toby Lewellen (Nutcracker Prince/Russian/Spanish) and Leslie Dodge (Sugar Plum Fairy). In addition to these nine company members, Ballet West Principal Artist and Ballet Arkansas Artistic Advisor, Michael Bearden, will grace the stage, dancing the roll of the Cavalier. Other corps rolls will be danced by Ballet Arkansas II company members Akiko Kyong-McClain, Mysti Kirkpatrick, Rachael Schwartz, Haley Jones, Laura Russell and Elizabeth Wing in addition to 175 other Arkansas students and performers.

The Nutcracker is the perfect yuletide gift, the ideal means of introducing children to the power and beauty of classical dance, and a delightful way for the entire family to ring in the holiday season. Make Ballet Arkansas’ Nutcracker part of your holiday celebration this December! To purchase tickets for the December 7th, 8th or 9th public shows to The Nutcracker, visit or call 501-666-1761. Tickets range from $20-$45.

Ballet Arkansas performances of The Nutcracker are generously sponsored by: Orthodontic Associates, Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Pleasant Ridge Towne Center, The Dance & More Store, Arkansas Times along with support from the Arkansas Arts Council.

Ballet Arkansas honors Kolb, announces 2012-13 season

Earlier this month, Ballet Arkansas hosted its annual spring soiree.  At the evening, Joseph F. Kolb was presented with the “Above the Barre” award.  Kolb was recognized for his past leadership on the Ballet Arkansas board.  In the early 2000s, Kolb served as the producer of the annual Ballet Arkansas production of The Nutcracker when there was no staff available to do so.

Joe and Cindy Kolb

Kolb has also been an active board member of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and Historic Arkansas Museum. He and his wife Cindy have two daughters. The oldest one is taking dance classes, so he now his most important connection is a ballet dad instead of being a ballet board member.

Also at the soiree, Ballet Arkansas announced its 2012-2013 season and featured dancers presenting preview moments.   The season will kick off with American Images on October 12 – 14, 2012. The dancers will interpret iconic pieces of art in dance. The performances will take place at Wildwood Park for the Arts in conjunction with Wildwood’s Harvest Fest.

Next up will be the annual production of The Nutcracker from December 7 – 9, 2012 at Robinson Center Music Hall.  This holiday tradition will featured not only Company members and Ballet Arkansas II but also dozens upon dozens of local dance students.

Ballet Arkansas spring into Spring at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. From April 5 – 7, 2013, it will present Spring into Motion which will feature a variety of dances.

Throughout the season, the Company tour beyondCATEGORY throughout the state. In conjunction with this tour, the Company will also offer workshops.

Lauren Quick Strother is the Executive Director of Ballet Arkansas.  The guest artist and artistic advisor is Michael Bearden, courtesy of BalletWest.  Guy Couch is the Tour Director. The 2012-2013 Company includes: Leslie Dodge, Lauren McCarty Horak, Toby Lewellen, Anna Maris, Sean Porter, Laurel Dix, Paul Tillman, Katchiri Feys Tillman and Amanda Sewell.

March of the Nutcracker

Ballet Arkansas continues the tradition of presenting The Nutcracker this weekend at Robinson Center Music Hall.

The title role is being essayed by Ballet Arkansas company trainee Jake Catlett while Michael Bearden, Ballet Arkansas’ artistic adviser, is a guest artist and dances the role of the Cavalier.  Alternating in the role of Clara are Lauren Frances Wood and Kathryn Latham.  Other roles are being danced by Leslie Dodge (Sugar Plum Fairy), Lauren McCarty Horak (Snow Queen),Toby Lewellen (Snow King),  Anna Maris (Frau Von Stahlbuam and Dew Drop Fairy), Sean Porter (Rat King), Stephen Stone (Drosselmeyer), Allison Wilson (Rat Queen) and Perry Young (Herr Von Stahlbaum, Mother Ginger).

The choreography for this production was created by a Jana Beard, Sydney Ippolito, Marius Petipa, Traci Presley, and Allison Wilson.  Geoffrey Robson, associate conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, will conduct musicians from the ASO in performing Tchaikovsky’s ballet score.  Tickets are available from the Arkansas Symphony box office at 666-1761 or