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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 Award in 2012.

Caitlin Hopwood, owner of the Ballerina Boutique donated dance wear items which Maggie will need for the show; Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography has been photographing productions and dancer portraits for Colorado Ballet Society for nearly twenty years and each year he donates a portrait package to the Dancer for A Day; Mark Tachna of Colorado Springs Video will donate a DVD of the performance; and Richard Turner of Copy It! print shop donated a large poster of the event for all the cast to sign; Ballet Society has donated tickets to the show for the Stephenson family.

“We appreciate each gift from our community partners who add joy to the experience for our littlest guest artist,” says Hoffman. “It’s an honor to work with such talented and generous professionals.”

“I love that Maggie had no apprehension when I asked her if she was interested in being the Dancer for the Day,” shares Stephenson. “Her confidence and willingness to try new things is reassuring as a parent. I am looking forward to seeing her enjoy being on stage as a part of a production that she has only been an attendee of in the past.”

“It’s the time of the year when families across the world will come together to relive the magical tale of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince by attending the ballet. We are honored to be part of this global tradition,” shares Hoffman. “But there is extra joy in knowing that our production can have a positive impact on such a special child right here in our community. Come see Maggie, and all our Nutcracker cast, in a unique celebration of the rich heritage of our Front Range region.”

Figure 1: Maggie Stephenson (with doll in arms) is Colorado Youth Ballet’s 2017 Nutcracker Dancer for A Day; PC Kayla Coburn

Figure 2: Maggie Stephenson and Amanda Mullinex as Party Girls in A Colorado Nutcracker rehearsal; PC Kayla Coburn

Figure 3: Maggie Stephenson 2017 Nutcracker Dancer for A Day, PC Kayla Coburn

A Colorado Nutcracker Performance Information

Who: Maggie Stephenson as the 2017 Nutcracker ‘Dancer for A Day’ with Colorado Youth Ballet and Colorado Ballet Society students with professional dancers and performers

What: A Colorado Nutcracker - features 150 local dancers; the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony; and the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale

When: Wednesday, December 20, at 7pm; Thursday, December 21, at 4pm & 7pm

Where: Pikes Peak Center ~ 190 South Cascade Avenue in Colorado Springs

Tickets: $18 to $46 Tickets can be purchased in person at the Pikes Peak Center and Broadmoor World Arena Box Offices; over the phone at 888-929-7849; or click HERE to purchase tickets online.

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