Seneca student takes lead role

By SHANNON CAULFIELD
The Shamong Sun

Dreaming of becoming a Sugar Plum Fairy in the ballet “The Nutcracker” is a pastime for girls around the holidays. For Danielle Cesanek, it’s now a reality.

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The 16-year-old Seneca High School junior has been dancing for the past 13 years, and will be a lead the as the Sugar Plum Fairy in this year’s production of the “The Nutcracker” at the South Jersey Ballet Company.

“I played a different lead in the spring show, which is a smaller production,” said Cesanek. “This is my first time as a Sugar Plum Fairy. It’s a different, larger role.”

The show will run three days, Dec. 14–16 at the Voorhees Middle School, and demands a lot of practice from the performers.
“It depends on the day, but normally we practice for 12 to 16 hours a week,” said Cesanek.

Additionally, on Sundays, Cesanek helps out with the younger children’s rehearsals.

As a child, Cesanek would watch the South Jersey Ballet Company’s performance of the “The Nutcracker”, and is now excited to take over the leading role.

“I think the Sugar Plum Fairies are what every girl dreams about,” said Cesanek. “You have to have a certain elegance about yourself, and you need to be sweet.”

The “The Nutcracker” tells the story of a girl, Clara, whose parents host a Christmas party. Clara’s uncle gives her a nutcracker as a gift, and when the party winds down, Clara sneaks to see her nutcracker behind the tree.

According to The Nutcrackerballet.net, as the clock strikes midnight strange things begin to happen. Clara begins shrinking, as her Christmas tree grows above her. The toys around the tree come to life while the room fills with an army of mice, led by the Mouse King. As the Nutcracker awakens, he leads his army of toy soldiers into battle with the mice. The Mouse King corners the Nutcracker and battles him one-on-one.

The Nutcracker and his army can go on no longer, and are captured by the mice and their king. Clara makes a final daring charge throwing her slipper at the Mouse King, hitting him on the head. The Mouse King drops to the floor and the mice run away, carrying off their leader’s lifeless body.

The Nutcracker then transforms into a prince and takes Clara on a journey to the Land of Snow, an enchanted forest wonderland where they are welcomed by dancing snowflakes.

The prince then escorts Clara to the Land of Sweets, where the Sugar Plum Fairy greets Clara and the prince. The prince tells her about their daring battle with the army of mice, and she rewards them with a celebration of dances.
“I think the ‘The Nutcracker’ is different. It’s special because we do it every year, and you play the same story but get new roles to dance in it,” said Cesanek.

Cesanek will dance a total of eight minutes, including a four-minute solo.

“It’s fun. I love trying new things,” said Cesanek. “It’s a lot of work, but at the end, you realize you want to go back and do it all over again.”

Following the performance, audience members will be able to meet with the cast and see what it is like backstage, according to Cesanek.

“I always say it wouldn’t be Christmas without the ‘The Nutcracker,’” said Cesanek.

The “The Nutcracker” will run Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m., two shows on Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. and Dec. 16 at 2:30 p.m. at Voorhees Middle School located at 1000 Holly Oak Drive in Voorhees.

Admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and $12 for children.

For more information on the South Jersey Ballet Company and to order tickets, visit their website at www.southjerseyballet.com or call (856) 767–7060.

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