A Swan Song For A Prima Ballerina

Retirement, Radio, Features, 12-13

Jim Cotter speaks with Pennsylvania Ballet Principal dancer Arantxa Ochoa.  After 16 years with the company, 11 of those in leading roles, Ochoa will retire from the stage after dancing the title role in Giselle, the ballet’s season-opening production.

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October 20, 2012

It's Last Dance For Pennsylvania Ballet's Arantxa Ochoa

Retirement, 12-13, Giselle, Features

When a great athlete retires from the game, we always hope they go out on a high note. Ballet dancers are no exception; they are as much athletes as they are artists. And like many a pro quarterback who doesn’t know when it’s time to quit, many dancers conclude their careers after their skills have been diminished due to age and injury.

Happily, this is not the case with local legend Arantxa Ochoa. A performer with the Pennsylvania Ballet since 1996 and principal dancer for the last 12 years, Ochoa is transitioning from the stage to classroom. Since September, Ochoa has been leading the faculty of the School of Pennsylvania Ballet; in January, the recently opened school is scheduled to move into the Ballet’s new home at the Louise Reed Center for Dance on North Broad Street. While beginning her tenure as a teacher, Ochoa is simultaneously bringing down the final curtain on her on-stage career this weekend with a farewell performance as the title character in the company’s magnificent production of Giselle at the Academy of Music. (Performers are subject to change, but Ochoa is scheduled to perform Oct. 28.)

“I had already made the decision to retire [before the company announced its 2012-13 season], and then I found out that Giselle was going to happen, and I thought how perfect that was,” says Ochoa. “When you are a little girl dreaming of becoming a ballet dancer, you dream of playing Giselle. From the music to the story to the steps, there is so much in the role, and there is a lot of opportunity for acting, which I enjoy.”

Her acting ability is one of the elements that separates Ochoa from other dancers. Roy Kaiser, Pennsylvania Ballet’s artistic director, refers to her as a “full artist.” “Arantxa is a wonderful technician,” he says, “but she also has the ability to fully immerse herself in a role, and there is a presence about her on stage that is completely engaging.”

Ochoa, who is married to former principal dancer Alexander Iziliaev, now Pennsylvania Ballet’s photographer and videographer, says she enjoys the acting challenges that come with “story ballets” like Giselle, a far cry from the shorter works that the Pennsylvania Ballet also stages. “I love the two- and three-act ballets like Romeo and Juliet and Sleeping Beauty. I love to act. People want to see the steps, but I love to develop a character that I can fully express on stage.”

Her decision to retire from it now, she confesses, is hard to put into words. “It’s the right time. Other performers always say that you will know when the time comes. I never thought that I would, but then something clicks, and you just know it’s time to move on and try other things.” And while she’s had her share of injuries—including breaking her fifth metatarsal—she says that the physical demands of ballet are only one factor in her decision to retire. “It’s a little bit of everything. It is your mind, as well as your body. I’ve had a wonderful career. And it is just the right time.”

What will she miss most? Ochoa mentions the audience first, but says she’ll also miss the arduous rehearsals. Despite the grueling hours—9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with performances on the weekend—she admits, “I will miss the work you do with your partner before you go on stage.” It is this work ethic that Ochoa stresses with her students. “I think people don’t realize how much hard work is involved because they just see the beautiful part. There are a lot of things that a dancer needs, but I tell my students that hard work is most important,” she says.

Perhaps the most gratifying thing about Ochoa’s retirement, says Kaiser, is that she’s still in her prime as a performer. “It’s always sad to see a dancer’s performing career end, but in Arantxa’s case, she’s doing it of her own choice. She’s not retiring because of an injury or something else,” he explains. “It’s her decision, which is always a very positive thing for a dancer.”

And, as Ochoa’s performance in Giselle proves, she’s still at the top of her game.

Featuring Adolphe Adam’s lushly romantic score, the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production is visually stunning (John Hoey’s lighting design is wondrous) and emotionally affecting. In the title role, Ochoa’s dancing is precise and elegant, and she truly captivates in a performance that is both subtle and breathtakingly passionate.

As Kaiser observes, “there is a natural evolution in a ballet company. Will one dancer step in and fill (Ochoa’s) shoes? No. But a number of dancers will step in and bring their qualities to the repertoire we perform.” 

Through Oct. 28. $30-$125. Academy of Music, Broad and Locust sts. 215.893.1999. paballet.org

Oct. 24, 2012
By J. Cooper Robb
Philadelphia Weekly

Read at PhiladelphiaWeekly.com.

Artistic Director Roy Kaiser Weds Melissa deRuiter

Features, Roy Kaiser

By Kellie Patrick Gates
The Inquirer
August 02, 2012

In early 2003, Melissa, now the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts' executive vice president of development, was grants manager at the Pennsylvania Ballet. She was seeking a hugely important Dance Advance grant to fund Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake. Needing to learn as much about the production as possible, Melissa made an appointment with the ballet's artistic director, Roy.

Before the interview, Melissa and Roy knew of each other. Roy had unknowingly gotten Melissa in trouble, when she followed his example of wearing jeans to work. But the interview was the beginning of a workplace friendship. The ballet won the grant.

In 2004, when Melissa was acting director of development, they worked together on the ballet's first capital campaign, raising $12 million for new repertoire and the endowment.

Melissa decided in 2005 to take her current position at PAFA, the organization where her career began right after college, and where she had previously served as membership director. The West Chester native gave the ballet a month's notice, so it could find her replacement.

"Are you still here?" Roy would joke whenever he saw her in the halls.

During that month, Melissa, who is now 40, and Roy, now 54, both attended an event at a board member's home, and Melissa heard the board member ask Roy if he would like to be set up on a date.

Roy had separated from his wife about a year before. His colleagues knew it hadn't been an easy time, but no one asked about such things at work.

When she overheard the conversation about dating, Melissa thought to herself, "I guess Roy is ready to begin moving on with his life."

It was the first time she ever thought about him in a personal way.

The fund-raising and philanthropy world of Philadelphia is small, and Melissa's mentors at both institutions had taught her to foster contacts. Plus, she found herself really wanting to know more about Roy as a person. "I very collegially asked him if he would want to go have a drink, and shoot the breeze about my time at the ballet."

Roy's schedule, both professionally and with his kids, Roy III, now 21, and Cristina, now 16, was difficult. But on the evening before Melissa's last day, they went for drinks at the London Grill in Fairmount.

The evening was supposed to be about strengthening ties and establishing a friendship that would last when they didn't share a workplace. But Melissa said she never would have had the courage to ask Roy to get a drink if she hadn't been leaving. And even if she had, Roy said, he probably would not have accepted.

"I honestly thought as I was walking in, we'd be there an hour, an hour and a half, and then I'd be going home," Roy said.

They had drinks, and talked about work. "But then it pretty quickly turned into a much more honest discussion, where we were starting to talk about each other and ourselves, and it started to cross over into our personal lives," Roy said. When Roy realized what was happening, he suggested they get a table.

Melissa asked Roy about the emotional difficulties of his divorce, and to his surprise, telling her felt completely natural.

"I hadn't done that with anybody, to that extent. I tend not to talk openly very easily," he said. "There was a connection that night, no doubt."

Melissa revealed details of her relationship history, too. So intense was the conversation that the waitress asked, "Are you two married yet?"

They were the last two people in the restaurant when it closed.

After her final day at work, Melissa was off to Stone Harbor for vacation. Before she left, there was a text from Roy - the first text message he had ever sent to anyone. "IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY FOR A DRIVE. BE SAFE AND HAVE FUN," it said. Roy didn't realize he was shouting.

A few days later, right before Roy headed to Los Angeles for work, he called to ask if Melissa would like to see the Bolshoi Ballet when she returned from the beach. She didn't want to wait that long. "I really want to see you," she told him. "After you get back from L.A., come have dinner with me at the beach."

Roy thought she'd never ask.

Together at the beach, the sparks flew.

Roy was protective of his children, and it was a year before he introduced them to Melissa. Once Roy saw the bond grow between his children and his girlfriend, Roy knew he and Melissa would marry. "From my perspective, it kind of sealed the deal."

Melissa and Roy, who now live in West Mount Airy, had talked about marriage for years by December 2011, when the Pennsylvania Ballet was on tour in Ottawa, and Melissa flew up to spend time with Roy. "Melissa came to the theater, and said she found a beautiful jewelry store, and a ring she really liked." Roy took her back there to look, and while they bought nothing that day, they went shopping again back at home.

Melissa found a sparkly hearts-on-fire diamond she loved. Roy bought it and ordered a setting. His daughter came with him to pick it up, then he took a break from The Nutcracker to join Melissa's family Christmas celebration at her sister Cynthia's house, near Pittsburgh.

Cristina "knew I had the ring, and she was text messaging me every 10 minutes, 'Did you do it yet? Did you do it yet?' " Roy remembered.

After dinner, Melissa was washing dishes. She came back into the dining room to see if she had left anything behind. There was a napkin and her eyeglasses. "I picked up the napkin, and under the napkin was a box," she said.

Melissa opened the box, saw the ring, and looked into Roy's eyes. "Will you marry me?" he asked. She said yes, they kissed, and she forced the ring onto her hand, which was still pruny from the dishes.

They walked into the family room, where Melissa's family was already waiting with champagne.

The ceremony and reception for 100 were held at PAFA. "It's Melissa's professional home, and it also happens to be incredibly beautiful," Roy said. The rich colors "felt like a warm embrace," Melissa said. "And it's also part of history. It opened in 1876, and all of these people have passed through and had celebrations in that space since then."

The ceremony included poetry and humor, and references to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Cristina was a bridesmaid and Roy III a co-best man.

Roy was overwhelmed that all four of their parents, his four brothers, Melissa's sister and brother, and friends from around the country all made it to Philadelphia.

Before Roy became the Pennsylvania Ballet's artistic director, he was a dancer with the company, and before that, a Pennsylvania Ballet student. Go back even further, and you find the young man from Perth Amboy singing and dancing with his brothers as the Kaiser Brothers. When it was time for Roy's co-best man and brother Russell to make a speech, he didn't. Instead, the Kaiser Brothers regrouped - with Russell's son, Avery, filling in for Roy - and sang a special version of "Under the Boardwalk," with new lyrics all about Roy and Melissa. "It brought the house down," Roy said. 

For Melissa, the wedding began before its official beginning, as she stood in her hotel room and read a letter Roy had written to her. "He promised to love me forever," she said. "That got me."

Roy stood on the landing of the grand staircase with his best men, watching the procession of bridesmaid and matrons of honor and flower girls. Then finally, there was Melissa, with her eyes locked on his. "For me, that's where the wedding began, as she came down the stairs," he said. Roy cried until she kicked up a leg to reveal a teal-blue shoe. "Then I cracked up."

A bargain: Le Meridien hotel gave the couple a 50 percent discount on a block of guest rooms. It was an incredible price, and over-the-top service, Melissa said.

The splurge: Trolley transportation and a tour from Philadelphia Trolley Works, and Marcie Blaine Artisanal Chocolates' LOVE Park confection for out-of-town guests.

The getaway: A week in Paris.


Read at Philly.com.

U.D. resident has stage presence

Behind the Scenes, 11-12, Features

May 06, 2012
The story of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, is a familiar one to many. But seeing it on the stage in a full-length ballet will be a first for most Philadelphia audience members.
The Pennsylvania Ballet is presenting the Philadelphia premiere of Trey McIntyre’s “Peter Pan.” It opened May 3 and continues through May 13 at the Academy of Music.
During the performances, all eyes will be on the dancers onstage and on the spectacular flying sequences. But behind the scenes Tony Costandino of Upper Darby also has a key role.
As stage manager for the company, he’ll stand backstage at each performance, wearing headphones, reading the score, looking intently at the stage or at a monitor, which shows everything happening onstage.
He calls the lighting cues, gives cues to the stage crew and oversees numerous other backstage details.
“My job is to run the show from the minute the house lights go down until the very end when they go up,” said Costandino. “It’s my responsibility to know the entire show.”
A full-length ballet like “Peter Pan” has special challenges for the stage manager, especially because its the first time with this ballet. It was originated by the Houston Ballet, and the Pennsylvania Ballet is the first company outside of Houston to do it.
“It’s totally new to us,” said Costandino.
One challenge was all the activity packed into the first act.
“It’s fast-paced from the moment the curtain goes up,” said Costandino. “It starts with the fairies, then the parents, the children, and finally the arrival of Peter Pan.”
Then, too, there’s an extended flying sequence in Act I. At his first entrance, Peter is not flying.
But in the next one, “he’s flying from the moment he comes on until he exits,” said Costandino. “It’s a lengthy sequence of flying. And what’s so impressive is that he flips and spins and does all sorts of things.”
There’s still another flying sequence in Act III, when Peter flies back to Neverland. For both scenes, wires are used for the flying, and they are connected to other apparatus, and to computers.
The basics are provided by a company called “Flying by Foy.”
“It designs flying rigs and apparatus that are used all over the world,” said Costandino. One of their technicians was assigned to work full time with the company on this show.
To practice the flying scenes, the Pennsylvania Ballet first rented Haverford School’s theater.
“We rigged up all the equipment and practiced for an entire week, and it went great,” said Costandino.
Although all the flying sequences are automated and controlled by computer, Costandino handles everything else that surrounds the flying, for instance, the lighting.
“We don’t want the wires to be visible while Peter Pan is flying, so the lighting has to be very limited,” he said.
That’s why the flying sequences take place at night. Costandino especially likes the visual effects at the end of Act I, when Peter and Wendy fly off.
“It’s nighttime, the stars are out, and they’re flying above London,” he said. “It’s very impressive.”
Act II keeps him especially busy. This is when Captain Hook arrives on his ship, and Peter Pan and the Lost Boys come on another ship.
“A lot of set pieces are moved on and off the stage,” said Costandino, whose role is to call the cues for when to move particular pieces of the set. Then the stage crew does the actual moving.
Act III opens on the deck of Captain Hook’s ship. His pirates have captured the Lost Boys.
“There’s a big fight scene between the pirates and the boys, and between Hook and Peter,” Costandino said.
Behind the scenes, he supervises the cues, including sound effects. During the battle, there are explosive sounds.
“I call the cue, someone presses a button, and there’s a ‘boom,’” he said. In all, the boom is heard four times.
Lighting cues, sound cues, spotlight cues and more, Costandino oversees it all. In all, he estimates there are about 250 different cues in the three-act ballet.
Whatever the challenge, this veteran stage manager can handle it. He’s been with the Pennsylvania Ballet for 30 years, and has worked on hundreds of ballets during his tenure.
Each ballet is like an individual show. Besides full-length ballets, other programs present several ballets in one performance.
“So I can do upward of 16 different ballets in one season,” Costandino said. “The work is changing all the time.”
Along with familiar ballets like the popular “Nutcracker,” there are new works, and “Peter Pan” is one of them. It’s a first for the company and the stage manager. He predicts audiences will enjoy this premiere.
“It follows closely the original story, but this is the chance to see it live,” he said. “Also, it’s one of the most family-oriented ballets we’ve ever done. It has appeal for everyone, regardless of age.”
IF YOU GO: Performances of the Pennsylvania Ballet premiere of “Peter Pan” at the Academy of Music run through May 13. Tickets are available online at www.paballet.org, by phone at 215-893-1999 or at the Kimmel Center box office.
By Ruth Rovner
 Special to the Times
Read at delcotimes.com.

Flying High in "Peter Pan" at PA Ballet

Features, 11-12

by Lauren Fadeley
Pointe Magazine
May 2012
Pennsylvania Ballet presents Trey McIntyre's Peter Pan for the first time this May. PAB soloist Lauren Fadeley, who'll dance the part of Wendy, is guest-blogging the rehearsal process for Pointe.
When we started this season at Pennsylvania Ballet, Trey McIntyre'sPeter Pan was definitely one of the most anticipated ballets in the lineup. Everyone knows the story of the boy who doesn't want to grow up and his adventures in Neverland, but none of us knew what to expect from a ballet version of the beloved classic. Would there still be mermaids and the ticking crocodile? Would Captain Hook and Peter still be arch nemeses fighting alongside their crews of pirates and Lost Boys? Would the Darling children still "think happy thoughts" and fly to Neverland?
After starting rehearsals last week, the answer to all these questions is: Yes! And then some. This production is so innovative in the way it tells the story through dance, props and special effects. McIntyre bases his ballet more on James M. Barrie's novel of Peter Pan than the Disney cartoon we grew up with, and the book has many underlying stories that add to the character development.
I have the amazing opportunity to portray Wendy in this full-length production. And that means I get to fly! We began the "flying to Neverland" scene in the studio by watching the video and learning the choreography with music. It was difficult to mark on the ground and be on the right counts when going up in the air takes so much more time. So the company rented out a venue where we can practice flying. We're going to get used to the harnesses we have to wear and work on our spacing and choreography in the air. The guys playing Peter went today and said it was a lot of fun. The Wendys will go tomorrow--I'll be sure to write all about it next time!
In a week and a half of rehearsals we have pretty much learned the whole three-act ballet, so there has been a ton of information floating through my head. I go to sleep reviewing choreography and wake up humming the music. Right now it's all about trying to remember the counts and what comes next, as well as starting to develop the character of a girl slowly becoming a young woman. As a 26-year-old, it's definitely a challenge to pretend to be 10, but it's also quite fun to remember what it was like to be that age. I'm looking forward to the point where it all starts to become second nature, and I can just let go and enjoy!
Read at PointeMagazine.com

McIntyre’s "Peter Pan" Takes Flight at Pennsylvania Ballet

11-12, Features

by Lewis Whittington
EDGE Philadelphia
May 3, 2012
Choreographer Trey McIntyre created "Peter Pan"for Houston Ballet ten years ago, and it was a huge success. Critics hailed McIntyre as the new vanguard for the story ballet. Houston performed it again in 2004, but the ballet is seeing its first re-staged revival in Philadelphia by the Pennsylvania Ballet this week.
J.M.Barrie’s story of Wendy, the Lost Boys, Captain Hook, and all of Neverland’s denizens were all there before. But it was never, never, like this onstage. Elaborate sets were designed by Thomas Boyd and music was composed by Sir Edward Elgar and arranged by Niel DePonte. McIntyre has interpreted "Peter Pan" through a dark magical realism lens for a story ballet.
This is McIntyre’s third collaboration with PB; he created "Plush" with them in 2001 and returned for a revival of his modern ballet "Blue Until June," which featured a gay themed central duet for a male couple. He is overseeing the dancers for "Peter Pan" but has left the staging to Annali Rose and Brett Perry, two dancers from the choreographer’s own company (The Trey McIntyre Project).
EDGE spoke to Perry and Alex Peters, a dynamic new dancer at Pennsylvania Ballet corps cast in the lead role, after they discussed the production aspects of the ballet during a preview talk at the Free Library on Rittenhouse Square. Both are in their 20s and recipients of the prestigious Princess Grace Award for their achievements in dance.
At Houston Ballet, much was made of the inventiveness of the flying effects as they worked within ballet vocabulary. The Houston production had to use manual flying apparatus with ropes and pulleys operated by stage technicians. In Philly, everything is computerized and operated by hydraulics and robotics. Perry described the process of setting the steps and aerials for a new company. Working from recordings of the Houston performance and rehearsals, "Annali and I wrote down descriptions of every step of this. We worked it out for months in advance," he said.
"I’ve been a dancer with TMP for four years. As a dancer, I know what it feels like to not have the stager know every step. I can relate to these dancers. And they have been so game to get it right. I think they knew I was one of them too," Perry explained.
Peters is alternating in the lead with fellow corps member Amir Yogev. Pennsylvania Ballet artistic director Roy Kaiser often uses members of the corps de ballet in feature or lead roles.
"It’s amazing to see Alex’s confidence in this. When they were first working with the flying, they were just attacking the precision of this movement," Perry said.
The two Peter Pans had been rehearsing the aerial work at a smaller studio theater nearby. When they rig the Academy of Music, they will be making adjustments for seven more feet of flying ropes. "It’s going to change a lot. The other characters just go up and down basically, but Peter’s flying involves spinning variations, for instance...and elements that are really the magic of the whole story," Perry noted.
Peters said that the choreography "requires a lot of acrobatic skills," He continued, "Trey has this vision of the character...not as Disney, but more animalistic and reckless. Peter is self-involved and unaware of the consequences. With Captain Hook especially, it’s just a dangerous game. He just wants us to throw ourselves into the part."
Perry is already scheduled to stage "Peter Pan" for two other companies next year. "This work is Trey ten years ago, and he doesn’t work with pointe shoes anymore. So it’s interesting to realize what he did within the story ballet. He brings to it a very real and honest base to the characters." Perry will be dancing when he joins TMP the day after the Philly opening, flying halfway around the world for their month-long Asian tour. Meanwhile, the two Peter Pans will be flying on their own in the Academy of Music.
Read at EdgePhiladelphia.com.

PA Ballet visits a Mt. Airy school

Features, Outreach, Videos

Lisa Thomas-Laury
February 22, 2012
The Pennsylvania Ballet is marking the 10th anniversary of its trainee program, with continued visits to area schools.
It is part of the Ballet's Outreach effort.
The Trainee program is known as Pennsylvania Ballet II, and it delighted the students at the Charles W. Henry School in West Mt. Airy Wednesday afternoon.
Pennsylvania Ballet II consists of seven pre-professional dancers who visit 15 to 20 schools in the area every year. It was their 9th visit to the CW Henry School.
They showed the Kindergarten through 4th graders some fundamental ballet moves, and the audience was especially thrilled to see their Coach, Chris Kuncio, help a dancer with a promenade.
Then they performed the ballet, "Por Temper Ments". The music is Hendemuth, and is choreographed by George Balanchine.
The ballet's outreach program gives the students a full ballet experience.
"They get to see classical ballet in their own environment, and they also bring kids to the dress rehearsals at the Academy of Music. This year, all the second graders came to the Nutcracker," said Phil Juska, Pennsylvania Ballet Outreach Director.
And it was the second graders who were the star attraction for their classmates, learning in one day a ballet to Rhianna's "We All Want Love".
"It's just wonderful to see the kids grow from year to year, it's amazing, and some of them are very talented," said William DeGregory, PA Ballet II Director.
When asked how they learned it so fast, their answers struck a common theme.
"I paid attention, and I listened," said 2nd grader, Terrell Tilghman.
"I was listening, and I watched the Nutcracker," said 2nd grader, Scarlett Zeleniak.
The Ballet's Outreach and Education programs bring recitals and other programs to 125,000 elementary, middle and high school students throughout the tri-state area.
Read and watch the video at 6ABC.com.

PA ballerina dances into retirement

Retirement, 11-12, Features, Videos

by Lisa Thomas-Laury
January 12, 2012
The Pennsylvania Ballet is saying goodbye to one of the best dancers in the business. The Ballet's principal ballerina is retiring next month.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Riolama Lorenzo began her ballet training with her mother at age 14.
"My mother was a ballerina in Cuba. She danced with Alicia Alonso," Lorenzo said.
She says ballet has always come easily to her and she has always loved performing.
"As a child you like what you're good at and then the whole performing and dancing abroad and all those opportunities that you get as a ballerina," Lorenzo said.
In 1993, she received the renowned Princess Grace Award and later joined New York City Ballet.
She joined the Pennsylvania Ballet in 2002.
She has danced leading roles in hundreds of performances and was pregnant in Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake last March, but still performed.
"I have a 6-month old baby daughter and a 4-year-old son and that's a big part of the reason why I'm retiring," Lorenzo said.
As for retiring, she says, "It's hard, but it's something you have to be ready for and I think I'm ready."
Artistic director, Roy Kaiser, says she's a ballerina of breathtaking skill; he hired her ten years ago.
"I will miss her. I certainly will, but we'll keep part of her here. She has a great influence over the younger dancers. She has for many years, so they'll carry that on," Kaiser said.
For her final performance next month , February 12th, Riolama will perform in Matthew Neenan's "Keep" at the Merriam Theatre, which was choreographed for her.
"I think it's perfect, that I should end with something so personal and so beautiful," Lorenzo said.
Riolama has prepared for retirement. She looks forward to spending more time with her children, plus she has a bachelor's degree in Health Science from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.
Read and watch the video at 6ABC.com.

Photo Of The Day: Pennsylvania Ballet Dancers at The Comcast Center

Features, 11-12, Nutcracker

Allison Stadd
December 7, 2011
The Comcast Center Holiday Spectacular, a Philadelphia holiday favorite, includes new and enchanting scenes from George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker performed by the renowned Pennsylvania Ballet, filmed this past October.
The dancers themselves made a surprise appearance at the Comcast Center this afternoon, providing viewers twice the holiday fun. Check out the video, below, of the impromptu performance, as well as another photo.
See the photos and watch the video at uwishunu.com.

Tis The Season

Nutcracker, Features, 11-12

by Jillian Mele
NBC Philadelphia
December 17, 2011
Jillian Mele gets an exclusive look behind the scenes at the Pennsylvania Ballet. 
Watch the video at NBCPhiladelphia.com.


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