The Marat Daukayev Ballet Theatre will present the “The Nutcracker” this weekend (Dec. 14-16) at The Luckman Theatre near downtown LA with Crossroads School 6th grader Anna Yeh dancing the lead role of Masha.
With more than 120 student dancers and 500 costumes, acclaimed Russian artistic director Marat Daukayev presents a restaging of the holiday classic’s celebrated 1934 choreography and a larger corps de ballet than ever before, reaffirming the ballet’s Russian roots as a magical holiday story for children and adults.
Yeh, 11, leads the production that features dancers aged 3 to 17 whose artistry and poise belie their young ages.
Yeh said she looked forward to performing the full-length ballet complete with battling mice and soldiers, professional guest dancers from Russia, an enchanting snowy forest, and Tchaikovsky’s beloved score.
“The preparation is just like any other rehearsals that other soloists do,” Yeh said. “First I work very hard by myself scene by scene in rehearsal. Then I practice with the other people in my scene, and we try our best to make the entire scene better. At home I watch professional DVDs or Youtube to learn how they express themselves in the scene. I also watch our previous DVDs and how the previous Masha (aka Clara) expressed herself in the same scene.”
She said this production was much different from others she has performed in.
“First, we take this production so seriously because everybody is paying for our show, which means that we are a part of a professional space,” she said. “So we take many hours to practice and prepare costumes and everything professionally. Also, so many people are coming for our show including my teachers, friends, and family.”
Yeh began ballet at age three.
Last February, she competed in the Youth America grand Prix – the world’s largest student ballet scholarship competition and placed Top 12 in the pre-competitive division at the Regional Semi-finals in Huntington Beach.
In August, she placed Top 24 in the Japan Grand Prix Final, Saitama, Japan and was awarded the Nara Governor Award (5th place) at the Ballet Competition in Nara Final (Vaganova Ballet Academy) in Nara, Japan.
She also excels as a gymnast after placing first in all around, bar, beam, and vault in the California State Championships in 2009 and 2010. In 2012 she placed 5th in all round, 3rd place in bar, and 4th place in floor at the California State Championships.
She said she loved ballet because she feels like she can just be herself.
“I have a lot of things that I love to do, but ballet is totally different level of love,” she said. “I think I really want to be a ballerina and work as a ballerina later on in my life. I am so happy that I will be able to make everybody happy through my ballet.”
She said she wanted to say thank you to her teachers and parents for supporting her.
“I will do my best and everybody in my school is working very hard,” she said. “So please come and see our show. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the theater.”
Artistic Director, Marat Daukayev, former Kirov ballet star, dances the role of Drosselmeyer.
During his 20-year career at the Kirov, Daukayev danced the leading male role in the complete classic repertoire with the Kirov.
Performances will take place at The Luckman Theatre at Cal State Los Angeles, 5151 State University Drive, five miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
Show times are Friday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 16 at noon and 4 p.m.
Tickets are $33 for reserved seating and can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 323.343.6600 on Tuesday between noon and 6 p.m., Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.maratdaukayev.com.