SALT CREEK BALLET CONTINUES TO BE EN POINTE
By Janis MVK
By Janis MVK
The Salt Creek Ballet has been cultivating holiday traditions for families and performance-art aficionados through its annual rendition of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Now, with a new board of directors taking centerstage, the ballet school is looking forward to a fresh approach in continuing to amplify the school’s achievement of being a top-tier performance ballet company.
Setting the stage for success, the board of directors welcomes five new members including Julia Costello, Susan Langenfeld, Melissa Barnes Mann, Susan Santefort, and Jane Walker. “Our board has always been extraordinarily dedicated and passionate about Salt Creek Ballet and works tirelessly to ensure its success and reputation,” says Gibby Kirby, executive director. “With the addition of the new board members, the vision is to not only continue to capitalize on the 38-year legacy of this organization, but to also continue enhancing the dance experience for our dancers, families, audience members, and community partners.”
The new board members join Lauren Kavanaugh, president; Kathleen Sievertsen, treasurer; Katharine Hamilton, assistant treasurer; Judy Sipek, secretary; O.J. Mavon, Julie Mayer, Christine Schultz Neumann, Veronica Norman, Juhl Patterson, Carolyn Schanzer, as well as the advisory and honoree members. “Together, they see the importance of arts in our communities and that Salt Creek’s mission is to deliver a professional experience to all,” says Kirby.
Historically, the board has been known to produce exquisite fundraising events and efforts, and this season is no exception. As a not-for-profit organization, the school relies heavily on charitable donations in order to present such elaborate performance productions. For this season the board starts it off with the annual Partner With Us: A Nutcracker Gala, funding the three-week performance engagement.
The gala takes place on November 10 at Hinsdale Golf Club and is one of the two major fundraisers the new board will be hosting this season. “This gala raises funds to offset the cost of professional guest artist fees, a revamp of the always-anticipated Sugar Plum Party, and expansion of the concessions and boutique offerings at the Hinsdale Central Auditorium,” says Lauren Kavanaugh, president of the board of directors.
Over the last couple of years, the ballet company has sought to make The Nutcracker a full experience both on and off stage. “The goal,” says Kirby, “ is to immerse our audience members the moment they walk in the door.” And this production will accomplish just that.
Newer elements will be brought into the production, turning an otherwise traditional rendition into one with some new perspectives. This production will be the second year the show will expand the snow effect in the first act from the stage to the audience. “Additionally, Salt Creek Ballet has made mindful adjustments to some of the scenes, costumes, and characters to honor and respect cultural representation,” says Erica De La O, artistic director.
“What also makes this production special is our cast of students sharing the stage today’s international stars from companies such as The Joffrey Ballet, Ballet National de Cuba, and Boston Ballet,” says Kristopher Wojtera, artistic director. “We enjoy connecting the children and our patrons with the professionals of today.”
“The experience of sharing the stage with professionals is invaluable for our student’s development, as it is for our community to be inspired by their beautiful dancing,” says De La O.
Putting on a production of this quality is quite tremendous. “The cast of dancers rehearse throughout the week and each Saturday from mid-September through the end of November in preparation for the performances that begin Thanksgiving weekend,” says Wojtera. “The dancers learn their individual roles, and then those are pieced together with other dances until each scene of The Nutcracker comes together from curtain to finale.”
“In addition, our families all put in numerous hours to assist in making it all happen,” says Kirby. “They fill over 400 volunteer slots during the course of our three-week engagement and spend countless hours prior to the performance to ensure all aspects of the production are of the highest caliber.”
The Nutcracker takes the stage on November 25 and 26 at the Hinsdale Central Auditorium. During the Saturday show, audience members will be able to see and take photos with Santa; and on Sunday, the show will feature the annual Sugar Plum Party. “The Sugar Plum Party is an audience favorite!” says Kirby. “Audience members will be able to take photos on the stage with set pieces and props.” The Field House at Hinsdale Central will also transform into a winter wonderland where audience members can get pictures and autographs with the Salt Creek Ballet dancers and enjoy sweets, treats, and refreshments. Tickets are on sale now.
Salt Creek Ballet, 98 E. Chicago Avenue, Westmont, 630-769-1199, saltcreekballet.org.