Beverly Hills Ballerinas Shine in ‘The Nutcracker’

Five Beverly Hills ballerinas took to the stage in Southern California’s longest-running rendition of “The Nutcracker.” The Westside Ballet’s 50th-anniversary edition of the legendary ballet began a sold-out eight- performance run on Thanksgiving weekend at  The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica. This year, the Courier attended a performance in which Westside Ballet alumna and special guest star Tiler Peck danced the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. 

Peck, a Principal Dancer with the New York City Ballet, is considered one of the preeminent dancers in the country today. 

She studied with Westside Ballet co-founder Yvonne Mounsey before joining the School of American Ballet at age 14. 

“Yvonne Mounsey and her school had a tremendous impact on my training and it was wonderful to share the stage with her students and carry on her legacy. I know Yvonne would have been so happy to see so many of her alumni returning to inspire the next generation,” Peck told the Courier.

That next generation put on a dazzling display of talent in the program. Five Beverly Hills pre-professional student dancers deserve particular mention: Chloe Meyer, 13, Billie Dane, 13, Elle Shim, 14, Willa Cross, 15 and Jenne Shim, 16 (who  excelled in the role of the Snow Queen). 

The production itself featured over 107 dancers, 225 costumes, and four elaborate settings that included a growing tree, angels gliding on clouds and falling snow. And the Santa Monica College Symphony Orchestra provided a masterful performance of the iconic Tchaikovsky score. 

Meyer, who performed as one of the Crystal Bells, noted that she especially loves performing for families that have not seen “The Nutcracker” before. 

“There are always people in the audience who are seeing the costumes, the magic or hearing the music for the first time.  It’s fun to look out into the audience and see their smiling faces,” she remarked. 

At the matinee the Courier attended, the faces with the biggest smiles belonged to young girls. Attending a production of “The Nutcracker” in a frilly party dress is always something of a rite of passage. In this case, it was also an opportunity to admire the dedication, artistry and hard work of local young women who, like Peck, may very well find themselves on the national stage some day. 

In light of the fact that this year’s production sold out quickly, the producers of the Westside Ballet’s 50th “Nutcracker” have provided links for the community to watch the performance for a limited time. 

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