The Christmas Ballet opens Friday
by Special to the Banner
Oct 30, 2011 | 1510 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THIS YEAR’S CHRISTMAS BALLET will feature a large group of young performers in “Nativity.” Above, from left are Cheyenne Bramlett, Niki Liner and Jaida McKeel of the Cleveland City Ballet.
THIS YEAR’S CHRISTMAS BALLET will feature a large group of young performers in “Nativity.” Above, from left are Cheyenne Bramlett, Niki Liner and Jaida McKeel of the Cleveland City Ballet.

The Cleveland City Ballet will present “Nativity” as the Christmas Ballet on Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. and on Nov. 5 at 2 p.m., at First Baptist Church in Cleveland.

Cleveland City Ballet Bang-A-Rang Director Connie Gatlin said, “We wanted to present the true story of Christmas through the beautiful art form of ballet. That’s why we created ‘Nativity.’”

The casting for “Nativity” includes dancers from ages 6 through 18. The music is a compilation of selections from different artists and different types of music. According to Gatlin, some of the melodies are old favorites, “but there are also choices that aren’t typically Christmas in nature, but that definitely work to ‘dance the story,’” Gatlin said.

“This year we are featuring a large group of our younger dancers. We believe that our younger dancers should have the experience and the joy of being a part of a production such as this, and we are delighted to be able to spotlight their efforts,” Gatlin added.

Beginning with the prophecies of Isaiah and moving through all of the essential elements of the story of Christ’s birth, Gatlin said the music was chosen to accompany all of these moments of history and appropriate choreography was then developed.

The choreographer for “Nativity” will be Monica Coates Ellison, the lead ballet instructor at Cleveland City Ballet. This is her second year presenting “Nativity.”

“It’s wonderful to work on the second year of a new creation. You build on last year’s work, and have the opportunity to tweak improvements in the presentation that this year’s dancers bring,” she said.

Coates has a degree in dance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a number of years of professional experience in New York. This is her first complete ballet creation.

Act Two will be a montage of Christmas songs that will kick off the holiday season in great style. Ashley Witzel, CCB Jazz and Tap Instructor, has choreographed several jazz and tap numbers for the students.

“These selections are very popular with our young dancers and their parents,” Gatlin said. “Miss Witzel has taken several clever renditions of Christmas favorites and choreographed numbers for jazz and tap dancers that are fun to dance and fun to watch.

Cast members for the production include Dawson Durett, Chelsey Goodwin, Emily Chavis, Kaitlyn Hewitt, Bella Hicks, Anna Beth Teague, Sydney Gobble, Brianna Pontes, Anna Stewart, Ashton LaRue, Kyndall McElhaney, Sara Anderson, Shelby Keller, Lily Bradney, Elliott Brock, Addison Brock, Ashley Kitterman, Abigail Kitterman, Sarah Redmond, Elizabeth Myers, Braydon Bolen, Madison Collins, Leah Hitchcock, LaShay Roberts, Cheyene Donohoo, Chenoa Donohoo, Chloe Jenkins, Brendon Ferguson, Mikhaila Ferguson, Avianna Durrer, Destiny Shreve, Lee Webb, Cheyenne Bramlett, Ursa Henry, Jessica Bausc, Breanna Melton, Bethany Brown, Kyndall Hutson, Chloe Freake, Anna Thompson, Madison Bischoff, Olivia Lawson, Lilliana Holland, Lauren Riad, Emma Thompson and Elizabeth Shelton.

Tickets for both performances are on sale at the Cleveland City Ballet Bang-A-Rang Productions Studios in the Old Woolen Mill, and tickets will also be available at the door. Seating is general admission.