Ephrata H.S. junior nabs role as Clara in ‘The Nutcracker’

By on November 30, 2016

Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker,” with its fanciful tale of Clara, a young German girl who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads, is a holiday tradition for many families. And, even if you’re not familiar with the story or have seen the ballet, chances are some of the music is familiar.

For Ephrata High School junior Lindsay Helock, “The Nutcracker” is a tradition for another reason. The 16-year-old has danced in it for the past decade. This year, she’s dancing the plum role of Clara in the Donetsk Ballet Company of Ukraine’s 24th Annual Nutcracker Ballet with Viktor Yeliohin International Ballet Academy Dec. 2 to 4. This production continues the ballet academy’s tradition of featuring the Donetsk Ballet Company from Ukraine, along with performers from Lancaster.

Polly Good, administrative assistant at the dance academy, explained it has a relationship with Donetsk Ballet through Yeliohin. A former Donetsk soloist, Yeliohin emigrated to the U.S. in 1991. Since 1992, he has been teaching ballet, choreographing and staging dance in the United States.

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“With the Donetsk Ballet, we’re getting world level ballet in Lancaster. There’s a worldwide love of ‘The Nutcracker,’” Good said, “For our students, it’s an opportunity to perform with top professional dancers. They get to meet the Donetsk dancers and get a glimpse of the world of a professional dancer.”

The Donetsk Company arrives in town the week before the performance. They’re housed locally by host families, which include some of the families of local dancers. For older students like Helock, there’s a bit more — they’ll take class with the Donetsk dancers.

Helock’s been studying ballet since she was 3½-years-old. She currently studies three nights a week and all day Saturday at the Yeliohin academy. She’s been dancing in “The Nutcracker” every year since she was six and has danced various roles. Last year, she was a snowflake and a parent at the ball. She also danced as the Queen of the Woodland Fairies in a new scene choreographed by Yeliohin at the opening of the second act. Now, she’ll share the role of Clara with Viktoria Popielarski, a student at Lampeter-Strasburg High School. Helock will be performing as Clara during the Friday evening at the 1 p.m. Saturday show. She will also be a marzipan.

“I’ve been watching this performance even before I started dancing in it, and I’ve wanted to be in the role of Clara,” she said.

Her favorite thing about the role of Clara is the fact that it calls for some acting skills.

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“I like to be involved in the dramatic aspects of dance; it’s important to convey emotions,” she explained.

Helock is also looking forward to partnering with one of the Donetsk dancers in one part of the ballet.

“I’ll only meet my partner a night or two before the first show,” she said, “I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve learned so much from watching the professional dancers; when we’re not onstage, we can watch through the curtain.”

She takes her role as an older dance student seriously and mentors some of the younger dancers, sort of paying it forward, since she had a dancer who worked with her when she was younger.

“I try to help some of the younger dancers. It helps us (the ballet company) look better as a whole and it helps them have a better experience,” Helock said.

Her favorite part of “The Nutcracker” — the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

“That role is the epitome of a ballerina; it’s so light and airy,” she explained.

She also sings in her high school choir, plays the flute in the band, and plays the violin in the orchestra. She is a member of the National Honor Society, the German National Honor Society, and Tri M Music Honor Society.

The Donetsk Ballet Company of Ukraine’s 24th Annual Nutcracker Ballet with Viktor Yeliohin International Ballet Academy will be held at Lancaster Mennonite High School Performing Arts Center, 2176 Lincoln Highway East, Dec. 2 through 4.

The performance Friday, Dec. 2 is at 9:45 a.m. and prices for this show are $10 for students and $20 for adults. Saturday performances are 1 and 6 p.m., while the Sunday performance is at 2:30 p.m. Tickets prices for Saturday and Sunday are as follows: main floor — $25 for students and seniors and $28 for adults; balcony — $18 for students and seniors and $23 adults.

To order tickets call 201-1122 or 517-9837 or email vynutcrackertickets@gmail.com. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.

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