NYC Ballerina Michele Wiles to Star in Youth Ballet Nutcracker in December at the Pikes Peak Center

Michele Wiles and Jens Weber as Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier   Photo by: Fritz Olenberg

See Michele Wiles in the Colorado Youth Ballet’s Nutcracker production at the Pikes Peak Center at 7pm on December 21, & at 4pm and 7pm on December 22. Tickets available at the Pikes Peak Center box office, all TicketsWest locations & by calling (719) 520-SHOW.

The Colorado Youth Ballet and Ballet Society of Colorado Springs will be featuring Michele Wiles, Artistic Director, of BalletNext (NYC), this December 21 and 22nd in three performances at the Pikes Peak Center in downtown Colorado Springs.

“I am really looking forward to being a part of the Nutcracker with Ballet Society of Colorado Springs,” says Wiles. “I love traveling to new cities, meeting new people, and having an exchange of energy and creativity.”

Wiles moved to Washington D.C. to train at the Kirov Academy on full scholarship when she was just 10 years old. She was a Gold Medal winner at the 18th International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria, a Bronze Medal winner in Nagoya, Japan, and a finalist at the Paris International Dance Competition. She was also a Princess Grace Foundation – U.S.A. Dance Fellowship recipient for 1999–2000 and won the Erik Bruhn Prize in 2002. She joined American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company in 1997 and joined American Ballet Theatre in 1998. She was promoted to soloist in 2000 and to principal in 2005. After six years as a principal dancer in the USA’s top ballet company, she left her position to start BalletNext.

When asked about her previous experiences in Colorado, Wiles said, “When I left ABT in 2011, I came straight to Boulder to perform Bach 260 with Robert Sher-Machherndl. What an experience! I fell in love with Colorado instantly.” A couple of years ago she spent one day in Colorado Springs and said, “I really enjoyed the enthusiasm and talent of the students at Ballet Society. I’m looking forward to my time there this December and connecting more with the young dancers.”

“What a special treat for us to have Michele Wiles performing with our Nutcracker,” says Ballet Society founder and director, Patricia Hoffman. “Our dancers have performed to sold out audiences at the Pikes Peak Center and been honored with standing ovations, but they are super excited to have such an internationally recognized ballet great joining them in the production.”

Another notable artist joining the cast this year is, Jay Donn, also of BalletNext in NYC. Jay Donn will be featured as the lead Arabian dancer and will be premiering his own Nutcracker choreography. Described as, “a highly energetic, daredevil dancer from Brooklyn”, he is the founder of the Brooklyn dance style known as Flexing and creator of the sub-style, “Punchlines.” At age 15, he started his dance career on BCAT's TV show, Flex N Brooklyn and saw a boost in his career when his group, Ringmasters, appeared on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew in Season 3. He has been featured in many music videos and feature-films including Step Up 3D and FLEX IS KINGS. He has toured worldwide and he performs with electro-acoustic cellist composer, Chris Lancaster. Jay Donn will be giving a FREE Flex dance class at the Imagination Celebration space in the Citadel Mall on December 19.

Jay Donn   Photo courtesy of BalletNext

The Youth Ballet has been presenting holiday performances along the Front Range for 11 years. This will be the fifth year of their Nutcracker being on the Pikes Peak Center stage. “We are honored that local families have made our production part of their holiday celebration,” says Hoffman. “Our dancers always consider their efforts to be part of their gift back to their community.”

The title role of the Nutcracker Prince will feature Ballet Idaho’s, Colton West. West is a graduate of Ballet Society and a former Youth Ballet company member. He toured China this past summer as a guest artist with State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara, California.

“It is an honor to return to perform with Ballet Society as a guest artist,” says West. “The fact that Ms. Patty believes I am at the standard to come and perform with the Colorado Youth Ballet as a guest artist is the biggest compliment. Ballet Society has really given me the technical training I needed to become a professional, and helped instill the discipline and perseverance which are extremely important values in a professional company.”

Colton West and Josie Hawkins as Nutcracker Prince and Clara   Photo by: Donna Lorrig

West earned several dance scholarship awards including the 2015 & 2013 1st place Denver Ballet Guild; 2014 Finalist at the International Concours de Grasse; 2013 First Mention at the International Concours de Grasse; and he has attended summer programs at Paris Opera Ballet School, American Ballet Theater New York, Ballet Austin, Boston Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet before launching his professional career this past summer.

Boulder Ballet company member, Matthew Helms, will be dancing the role of Snow King. Helms is a longtime favorite guest artist of the Youth Ballet, having appeared over the past several years in their productions including as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake; as Swanhilda’s fiancé, Franz, in Coppelia; and as the Nutcracker Prince in the Nutcracker.

“For me personally, the chance to perform at the Pikes Peak Center is always an extra thrill,” says Helms. “The Youth Ballet dancers give 100% to their production and you can tell they love to dance from their expressions, even in rehearsals.”

Matthew Helms with Amanda Townley Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

As the magical, Uncle Drosselmeyer, Stephen Wynne, will be reprising his crowd pleasing performances. Wynne is an arts leader along the Front Range as the Creative Arts Director at Summit Education Group and Creative Arts Director at Arts Immersion. This will be the third time he has appeared as Drosselmeyer with the Youth Ballet.

“Stephen is one of my all-time favorite Drosselmeyers,” says Hoffman. “His professionalism makes him a joy to work with and his acting really brings the character to life.”

Stephen Wynne as Drosselmeyer observing the unfolding battle scene in Clara’s parlor on Christmas Eve

Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

A native of Philadelphia, PA, Wynne began his training at the School of the Pennsylvania Ballet. He received a full scholarship to the School of American Ballet Theatre for two years in New York City, after which he spent sixteen years overseas with many different companies in Europe including: Scapino Ballet in Amsterdam, CH Tanz Theater in Zurich, Switzerland, and Tanz-Forum, the resident modern dance company at the Metropolitan Opera House in Cologne, Germany. In 1994 Stephen returned to the USA as Artistic Director with At Marah Dance Theatre in Philadelphia, PA. Later he served as Associate Professor of Dance at Belhaven University and after his move to Colorado, he was the Artistic Director of Sangre de Cristo Ballet and School of Dance.

Also, joining the Youth Ballet and Ballet Society dancers in The Nutcracker this year will be the talented young musicians of the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony with conductor Gary Nicholson and the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale.

Historically, because of its wide audience appeal, Nutcracker performances generate a lion's share of ticket sales for orchestra and ballet companies, securing dates on the calendar each year for many top arts organizations. Do dancers and musicians tire of the annual holiday extravaganza? There doesn’t appear to be any lack of enthusiasm on the part of these dance professionals.

“The Nutcracker is a Christmas time tradition and I love being a part of it,” says Wiles. “I really am lucky to be able to dance the Grand Pas De Deux-the music is incredible and I get to listen to it over and over again!”

“We delight in bringing this classic and timeless tale to life each holiday season,” says Hoffman. “It’s a return to the joys of childhood in such a whimsical and fanciful way.”

Colorado Youth Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Pikes Peak Center in three performances, Monday, December 21, at 7pm; and on Tuesday, December 22, 4pm & 7pm. Tickets are and are available through the Pikes Peak Center and World Arena Box Offices, at area King Soopers stores and TicketsWest locations and over the phone at (719) 520-SHOW.

General information on Colorado Youth Ballet and Ballet Society of Colorado Springs is available online at: coloradoyouthballet.com   danceinthesprings.com

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Who:            Michele Wiles, Colorado Youth Ballet, and dancers of Ballet Society of Colorado Springs, with musicians of the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony, and vocalists from the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale

What:           The Nutcracker - 130 performers in this 75-minute production narrated by FOX21 News Anchor, Joe Cole. This family-friendly version features all your character favorites: The Sugar Plum Fairy, Clara and the Nutcracker Prince, the Rat King and his ferocious Mice fighting the Toy Soldiers, and all the delights of the Winter Wonderland and the Land of the Sweets! Don't miss this holiday classic.

Where:         Pikes Peak Center, 190 South Cascade; C/S, CO; 80903

When:          Monday, December 21 at 7pm; Tuesday, December 22, at 4:00pm & 7pm

Tickets:       $18-$38 and are available through the Pikes Peak Center and World Arena Box Offices, at area King Soopers stores and TicketsWest locations and over the phone at (719) 520-SHOW.

Purchase tickets online HERE

Nutcracker Prince and Rat King sword fight Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

Winter wonderland    Photos by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

Mother Ginger, Mariah Plutt, and the Ginger Kids  Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

Waltz Flowers with Clara and the Nutcracker Prince   Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

Clara and her Nutcracker   Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

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