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The Nutcracker: a High family tradition

Camille Doty

By Camille Doty
Dec. 6, 2011 at 6:06 a.m.
Updated Dec. 7, 2011 at 6:07 a.m.

Elizabeth High, 17, peeks out from behind the curtain as she waits her turn to dance a solo on stage at dress rehearsal of the Victoria Ballet Theatre's "The Nutcracker" on Tuesday evening at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts. High and her family have been a part of the annual production for years. This year she is dancing as a snowflake and as the Dew Drop Fairy.

Elisabeth High has danced since she was 2 years old. The 17-year-old St. Joseph's High School senior will have a lead role in the Victoria Ballet Theatre's production of "The Nutcracker" as a snowflake and Dew Drop Fairy.

"I love sharing my talent and letting the audience see my joy," she said.

Although, the National Honor Society student is learning to master her craft, she gives God the glory.

The Tchaikovsky classic production is a High family affair. Her parents and five siblings are all involved in the beloved Christmas ballet in various functions.

The High family and other fine arts lovers have all donated their time to put on the Victoria Ballet Theatre's largest production of the year, which will begin Thursday and run through the weekend at the Leo J. Welder Center.

Brenda Tally, the ballet group's artistic director, said 40 senior company members and 110 others comprise the cast and crew.

Special guest dancers from Houston, Austin, San Antonio, New York and Ohio will also perform.

Tally said rehearsals for some started as early as August.

"The Nutcracker" is a classic holiday tradition that keeps her interest, she said. "I never get tired of the music."

Kelly High, Elisabeth's father, said he's grown an appreciation for fine arts through his daughters' involvement.

Kelly High said he is excited for his daughter's opportunity to dance since she's been so dedicated from the beginning.

"It's like a little kid watching a varsity game, growing up and finally getting a chance to be quarterback," said the proud father.

The proud dad said his daughters have learned there are no shortcuts to being successful in ballet, and that same attitude carries through in real life.

The dad is the owner of High-Brehm Hats & Western Wear, and he will play the honored guest role of Mother Ginger, with a western flair, he said.

In previous years, he's declined the offer. But for Elisabeth's senior year production, he surrendered.

"I didn't have any fight left in me," he said jokingly.

The father of six said he would survive because his predecessors have.

Beth High agreed with her husband's sentiments, and said her children have become better students because of their commitment to dance.

Mrs. High said she is the chairperson of VBT's Boutique Committee. Her two sons, Harrison High, 15, and Hudson High, 21, who are into athletics will help take down the set.

She said that the sisters support them in their endeavors. "It's important for everyone to support one another," said Mrs. High. "It's part of being a family."

Sisters Madison High, 9, and Ellison High, 7, also have parts in this year's production.

Debbe Busby, founder of Busby Dancenter has known Elisabeth since she was a brand new ballerina.

"She's a driven and focused young lady," Busby said. "It's a pleasure to be with her not only as a dancer, but as a human being."

Elisabeth also teaches children at Busby's school.

This Snowangel's slippers have followed in her older sister's footsteps.

"She taught me to stick with it," Elisabeth said of her sister Audrey High, 20, who also performed in the Nutcracker.

Audrey is now is on a dance scholarship a Southern Methodist University.

Elisabeth said she would also like to go to school for dance as well as special education.

The National Honor Society student said she wants to teach children with special needs to dance. She said she's had practice working with autistic children.

"I just love seeing the big smile that comes across their face when they can express themselves," Elisabeth said.

Although she's been in "The Nutcracker" 11 other times before this, each time is a refreshing experience.

"I've taken different parts, and each is a new way to tell the story," Elisabeth said.

Starting on Thursday, ballet lovers will get a chance to see Elisabeth dance in group and solo performances. She said it's a privilege to usher in the holidays doing what she enjoys, dance.

"I love getting in the Christmas spirit," she said. "People all over Victoria can be a part of it."



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