Schrader Youth Ballet to present Winter Dance

Photo Provided Emma McGirr, a former member of the Schrader Youth Ballet, will return to dance in the company’s annual holiday production of “The Nutcracker — Clara’s Dream” on Saturday at the Smoot Theatre in downtown Parkersburg.

PARKERSBURG — The Schrader Youth Ballet will be presenting its annual “Winter Dance” production on Saturday at the Smoot Theatre in downtown Parkersburg.

Tickets for Saturday’s performance at the Smoot can be obtained by calling 304-422-PLAY or by visiting the theatre’s website. Seats are $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors.

The program will include “The Nutcracker (Clara’s Dream)” and “Les Patineurs” (The Skaters). This season the youth company will feature professional artists and Nevada Ballet Theatre principal artists Emma McGirr and Ben Tucker, who will dance the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier in the Grand Pas.

McGirr is a native of Little Hocking and a graduate of Warren High School as well as a Schrader alumnus. She graduated magna cum laude from The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She has danced professionally with the Louisville Ballet, Eugene Ballet Theatre and currently is performing as Clara in the Nevada Ballet Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker.” This past summer she performed as a company member of Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance, a touring company based in Asheville, N.C. At NBT, she performed in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil at the Mystere Theater.

Tucker is originally from Evart, Mich., and trained with Grand Valley State University and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Additionally, he danced with Richmond Ballet as an apprentice, where he earned the Malcolm Burn Award from the Kip Kephart Foundation. He performed with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet during their European Tour performing in several principal roles, and joined Ballet Tucson in 2011 as a Principal Dancer. This Nutcracker season, he alternately performs as the Nutcracker and the Snow Prince with NBT. Both McGirr and Tucker also dance with “ballet120,” a professional dance company dedicated to online videos and shows through social media outlets.

Dancing the role of the Nutcracker prince for the local production will be Parkersburg Catholic graduate Christian Knopp. A dance major at The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, he is currently completing a two year internship as a trainee with the Pensacola Ballet.

Drosselmeyer will be portrayed by local actor David B. Prather, a member/actor/director at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, “We Were Birds,” from Main Street Rag Publishing.

The role of Clara this season is 14 year-old Anna Martin, the daughter of Breck and Holly Martin of Vienna, and student at Parkersburg High School. Martin attended a five-week ballet summer intensive at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts this past summer.

The Nutcracker story is presented by major and small civic dance companies all over the world as an annual tradition. Although the story may vary based on the community in which it is being presented, the story of young Clara falling asleep with her Nutcracker doll and dreaming of the Sugar Plum Fairy, waltzing flowers, falling snow and the Russian, Chinese and Spanish dancers is a tradition understood no matter where in the world it is presented. It was performed for the first time in 1892, with the same music Tchaikovsky wrote for the ballet.

The SYB production was choreographed by the late Duncan Noble and Velma Schrader, artistic director of the local youth company.

“Les Patineurs” is the short story of a Victorian ice skating party. With music by Giacomo Meyerbeer, it was first presented in 1937, and was one of the first televised ballets. The local production was choreographed by Teri Seier Moore.

SYB Company members include Ana Collins, Adeline Smith, Isabelle Bradley, Abigail Kuhlman, Haileah Parker, Ashlynn Taylor, Charis Mace, Nora Augenstein, Arwen Chambers, Anna Martin, Serenity Sprouse, and Maddie Duvall.

The troupe has performed this season at the Grand Central Mall, celebrating the arrival of Santa, at the City of Parkersburg and Downtown PKB’s holiday tree lighting ceremony and at Peoples Bank Theatre as part of the theatre’s Hometown Holiday Spectacular.