Westside Ballet Long-standing Production of ‘The Nutcracker’ Presents Palisades Talent

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Palisadians participating in ‘The Nutcracker’ (left to right) are Chloe Butler (Flower), Lilah Robinson (Crystal Bell), Lily Abruscato (Blue Soldier), Stefan Goy (Mouse King), Mirabelle Weinbach (Sugar Plum Fairy), Olivia Polite (Lead Angel), Sidney Brody (Candy Solo), Zoe Mack (Snow Corps), Sofia Davies (Flower).
Photo: Todd Lechtick

Southern California’s longest running production of “The Nutcracker” will return for its 47th season and feature nine dancers who live in Pacific Palisades or attend school here.

The Broad Stage production, which starts Thanksgiving Weekend, will include the pre-professional dancers and seven professional guest artists, including New York City Ballet soloist Savannah Lowery.

Two new principal male guest artists performing are: Los Angeles born Eli Grushka (formerly of ABT Studio Company) who will accompany pre-professional dancer Mirabelle Weinbach; and Andrew Brader (Barak Ballet and

SFDanceworks) who will perform the Arabian pas de deux, the second performance weekend with pre-professional advanced dancer, Olivia Polite.

Four other male  guest artists include: Evan Swenson (formerly with Atlanta Ballet) as the Sugar Plum Cavalier; Johnny Zhong (formerly with Classical Ballet of Guangzhou) as the leaping Russian soloist; Jack Virga Hall (Assistant Artistic Director at Pacific Dance Theater, and recently on tour with Ballet D’Hommes) as Arabian pas de deux (first weekend); and David Block (Inland Pacific Ballet) debuting as the Soldier Doll.

The Nutcracker production will feature the Santa Monica College Symphony Orchestra and more than 100 dancers in 225 costumes. The Westside production will also feature its traditional scenes: the tree that grows, a firing cannon and falling snow over a stunning corps de ballet of ballerinas.

Starting with the Victorian-style party scene, this is the traditional full-length ballet in two acts. This is a close rendition of George Balachine’s homage to the original Nutcracker danced in 19th Century Russia.

Westside founder Yvonne Mounsey, who created the Nutcracker role of Center Spanish during the peak of her career as principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, brought this classic to Southern California in 1973.

Mirabelle Weinbach
Photo: Todd Lechtick

Dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy is Mirabelle Weinbach, a senior at Brentwood School. She started dancing at age 5 and has advanced through the ranks, dancing every almost every Nutcracker role from Clara to the Dew Drop Fairy. She has participated in selective summer programs with the New York’s School of American Ballet, the Boston Ballet School and Pacific Northwest Ballet School.

Last year, LA Dance Chronicle reviewer Lara Altunian wrote: “Weinbach is masterful as the prima ballerina, embracing her role with a confident smile reflected in her every movement. … it is clear that she is the star. … her bourrées reflect the twinkling of a dream.”

Palisades High School senior, Olivia Polite has been with Westside for more than a decade and has also performed nearly every role in this ballet. She will reprise her role in the Arabian pad de deux.

At 5’10,” Olivia has also worked as a runway model in L.A. Fashion Week.  She is applying to college, with plans to become a choreography and writer and maybe pursuing choreography as a professional career.

Other Palisadians to look for are: fourth grader Lily Abruscato (Palisades Elementary); eighth graders Chloe Butler (Laurel Springs) and Lilah Robinson (Calvary Christian); Palisades High School freshman Zoe Mack and Sofia Davies; junior Sidney Brody and senior Stefan Goy.

Performances are Saturday and Sunday, November 30 and December 1 at 1 and 5 p.m.; Friday December 6 at 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on the Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. Tickets are $45. Call 800-595-4849 or visit westsideballet.tix.com or for group sales or questions email tickets@westsideballetcompany.org.  Visit: westsideballet.com and click on Nutcracker link.

Palisades High School senior Olivia Polite performs in the Arabian pad de deux.
Photo: Todd Lechtick




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