Colorado Youth Ballet Introduces 2017 Nutcracker ‘Dancer for A Day’

The Colorado Youth Ballet and its parent organization Colorado Ballet Society welcome nine-year-old, Maggie Stephenson, as their 2017 Colorado Nutcracker ‘Dancer for A Day’ for the upcoming production at the Pikes Peak Center on December 20th at 7pm, and 21 st at 4pm and 7pm, with the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony, the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, and narration by Joe Cole, of FOX21 News.

“Maggie is charming and enthusiastic as our special guest artist,” says Ballet Society founder and director, Patricia Hoffman. “She is a natural fit for the part and will be adorable on the Pikes Peak Center stage. We are excited to have her in the inaugural cast of our historic Colorado Nutcracker.”

A fourth-grade student of Chinook Trail Elementary School, Maggie is also a patient at Children's Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado). She has undergone two open heart surgeries due to a congenital heart defect. One of her doctors, Dr. Chad Stewart, who is a cardiologist at Children’s Colorado’s Briargate location, referred her for the program.

“Maggie has learned a lot about Colorado Springs history in 3rd and 4th grade,” shares her mother Dina Stephenson. “In fact, in 3rd grade she went on a field-trip to Glen Eyrie where she learned all about General Palmer, and she loves that this Nutcracker story includes some of that local history.”

Like most of the young dancers in the cast, Maggie adores her costume and is already asking her mom about getting a hand muff for Christmas, since that is one of her favorite pieces of her stage wardrobe. She’ll be in the grand party scene where General Palmer and his three daughters are hosting a Christmas Eve celebration for the orphans of the city with Julie and Spencer Penrose and Elizabeth and Henry McAllister at the Great Hall of Glen Eyrie Castle.

“Maggie is loving rehearsals and enjoys making new friends,” shares Stephenson. “I was able to watch for the first time the other day, and I could tell by the big smile on her face that she was in her element.”

Now in its seventh year, the ‘Nutcracker Dancer for A Day’ program was instituted in 2010 by Ballet Society student and Colorado Youth Ballet member, Hannah (Olson) Diener, as her senior project at Pine Creeks HS. Its mission is to provide for a child battling a life-threatening illness to be able to experience the joy of being part of the Nutcracker cast. Diener credits her niece, who was a Make-A-Wish recipient, as the inspiration for creating the Nutcracker Dancer for A Day project.

“I am touched and overjoyed that this project has been continued,” says Diener. “Bringing joy to the lives of seriously ill children holds a special place in my heart, and what a perfect time of year it is to be reminded of the impact of selfless love while finding joy in dance and sweet community.”

Diener went on to graduate with a degree in modern dance performance from the University of Oklahoma where she enjoyed the opportunity to study dance technique and dance history in Paris, France, over a summer and expanded her knowledge of technique, performance, and choreography. “My time at the Ballet Society laid a solid foundation of dance technique that has proved so essential to my understanding and execution of all forms of dance.”

The Nutcracker Dancer for A Day program received an Arts/Business/Education Consortium (ABE) Arts Awar