For the past four months, rehearsals for Saint Augustine Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker have been underway in the studios of Abella’s School of the Dance. The enthusiasm of Artistic Director, Luis Abella is evident when he talks about this year’s production. “I think this will be our best show ever,” explained Abella, “We’ve been making many changes to keep it fresh and exciting for our returning audiences. I’m really looking forward to showing off our guest artists. They are going to provide a spectacular ending to this magical show.”
The holiday favorite will be performed in Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College on Saturday, December 17 and Sunday, December 18 at 1:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $30 with discounts for ages 65 and older, and 12 and under. They’re available at saintaugustineballet.com or by calling 855-222-2849. Audience members are being asked to help fill the donation bins in the lobby with canned goods for the St. Francis House Food Pantry.
Saint Augustine Ballet’s multi-generation cast of eighty-five members comprised of student and several well-known local celebrities have been rehearsing every Saturday since August. The principal dancers, Carlos Miguel Guerra and Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, both former principal dancers with Miami City Ballet will perform the iconic principal roles of the Cavalier and Sugar Plum Fairy. They along with the other guest artists will arrive in time to participate in the final week of rehearsals.
Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, born in Queens, New York, trained at the School of American Ballet before joining Miami City Ballet where she was a principal dancer from 2001 to 2016. She has been featured numerous times in Pointe Magazine, DanceView Times, Dance Spirit Magazine and is the author of the book, “So, You Want to be a Ballet Dancer”. Kronenberg has been called a prima ballerina and is known for her fleet footed spins and aristocratic phrasing and line.
Carlos Miguel Guerra, a native of Cuba, began his training at the Professional School of Ballet and Plastic Arts in Camaguey, Cuba. Guerra was a principal dancer with Miami City Ballet from 2003 until 2016. He is a virtuosic dancer known for his dazzling spins, lifts, and dynamic partnering. Guerra was the recipient of the 2015 Miami Life award in the category of “Best Male Ballet Dancer.
New to Saint Augustine Ballet is Reinhard von Rabenau dancing the role of the Prince. Born in Duluth, Minnesota, he trained at Minnesota Ballet in 1997 and attended programs at Point Park University and Pacific Northwest Ballet. He danced with Minnesota Ballet from 2006-2015 and most recently with Ballet Palm Beach. Returning to the role of the mischievous Uncle Drosselmeyer is Orlando Molina, Associate School Director of the Georgia Ballet. Molina received his Diploma as a Dancer/Teacher from the Cuban School of Ballet and has performed around the world as a principal dancer before settling in the United States.
The story of The Nutcracker revolves around Clara and her fantastical journey to the Land of the Sweets. Clara will be danced by local dancer, Eléa Woodward. Eléa is the 13-year-old daughter of Virginie and John Woodward and an eighth-grade student at Fruit Cove Middle School. “What excites me the most about being Clara is the fact that I have achieved my dream,” Eléa explained. “Since I started dancing with St. Augustine Ballet, I have always wanted to be Clara and I have worked hard to try to get the role.”
Saint Augustine Ballet’s Nutcracker has always featured numerous community members. The group meets regularly to rehearse their Act One dances in the party scene. This year’s local celebrities are Katherine and Todd Batenhorst, Tommy Bledsoe, Jane and Joe Boles, Georgia Garrett, Becky Mendenhall, Barbara Pheffer, Jorge Rivera, Beth and Tracy Upchurch and Scarlett, Cassie and James McCune.
The Nutcracker is a magical holiday show that features mischievous mice, dancing dolls, sparkling snowflakes, custom-designed scenery and costumes, and skillful athletic dancing. The show is suitable for all ages and for many it has become a yearly family tradition. Saint Augustine Ballet is a 501(c)3 non-profit performing arts organization dedicated to creating dance opportunities for students of dance and appreciative audiences. For more information about Saint Augustine Ballet visit www.saintaugustineballet.com.