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November 25, 2009 > Dancers Grace the Stage for Nutcracker

Dancers Grace the Stage for Nutcracker

By Emma Victoria G. Blanco

One only has to walk into Yoko Young's Dance and Performing Arts Academy to realize that the distinguished and world renowned choreographer is serious about discipline and professionalism. If the astounding number of competition trophies that line the reception counter does not impress you, then perhaps a glimpse into the mirrored studio will. What your eyes will behold is a group of young girls, each in uniform black leotards and each wearing their hair in tight buns, all moving in graceful synchronicity.

On December 5 and 6, for the fifth consecutive year, Yoko Young's Dance and Performing Arts Academy will perform The Nutcracker Ballet at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts at Ohlone College. Dancers will be accompanied by the Fremont Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro David Sloss. "The Nutcracker remains a perennial holiday favorite because it combines so many elements so beautifully," he stated. "It's a Christmas story to begin with. It's visually stunning; children love it because it's mysterious and scary in parts, and it's a story about children; it's full of colorful and exotic scenes; the music is unforgettable; and it has a great happy ending." Sloss credits Young for the ballet's successful choreography. "Her Nutcracker combines beautiful classical ballet in some scenes with colorful dramatic action in others, and delightful humor where appropriate too. Her dancers, of all ages, are superbly trained and totally disciplined. She pays attention to every detail; every dancer in every ensemble is precise, every costume is just right."

Young is sought after by national dance publications and has been quoted in many major publications. She is an internationally acclaimed master teacher, choreographer and competition judge. Born in Tokyo, Japan, Young learned Fujima, traditional Japanese dancing, at the tender age of four. She continued to study classical ballet under Sakiko Hirose of the Tokyo Ballet, Sulamith Messere and Aleksei Varilamov of the Bolshoi Ballet and Roy Tobias of the New York City Ballet. Young was Prima Ballerina and soloist for the Hirose Ballet Company and Tokyo Ballet Theatre in such standards as "Swan Lake," "Sleeping Beauty," "Don Quixote," and many more. She danced "Carmen" with the Opera de Paris in France and has appeared on Japanese television and in many American movies, television series and commercials.

Auditions for The Nutcracker were held in September and out of over 400 dancers, 65 were selected. Performing alongside them will be guest artist, Bryan Ketron from the San Francisco Opera Company. Ketron will once again dance the role of the Cavalier, a character most noted for the finale dance of Pas De Deux with the Sugar Plum Fairy. On the faculty of the Marin Dance Theater, Ketron has also danced with The Oakland Ballet, Ballet San Jose, Robert Moses' KIN, the San Diego Opera, and the Smuin Ballet. He participated in the Edinburough Fringe Festival and has appeared in several movies, including Illusion and The Matrix Reloaded.

Once again, there will be special appearances by Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman, his wife Linda, Fremont City Council members, and several members of the Fremont Symphony Board.

After each matinee performance, children are invited to attend the Sugar Plum Party, where they will have the opportunity to have their pictures taken with the costumed dancers. Tickets to the Sugar Plum Party are $6. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Of the Nutcracker Ballet performance this year, Young stated, "We have new choreography and new costumes. And of course our award-winning dancers are always incredible." She proudly disclosed that her dancers have just completed a the 2008-2009 competition season by winning the Showstopper National Championships in both the Teen (13-15 years old) and the Senior (15-18 years old) divisions. Showstopper is the world's largest and most respected dance competition.

Young is resolute with her description of her dance company's Nutcracker. "[It] is a full scale Nutcracker Ballet with live symphony orchestra, done in a very professional manner. I'm sure the technique and showmanship exhibited on our stage, as well as in the orchestra pit, will amaze everyone [who] attends."

Nutcracker Ballet
Saturday, December 5
2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday, December 6
2 p.m.
Smith Center for the Performing Arts at Ohlone College
43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont
(510) 794-1659

Adults: $43-$48
Children/Students: $20
Sugar Plum Party: $6

Group discounts available for groups of 10 or more

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