Students take in, take on 'The Nutcracker' (w/video, gallery)

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Dec. 12, 2013 at 6:12 a.m.
Updated Dec. 13, 2013 at 6:13 a.m.

Julie Janecka performed as the Snow Queen from act 1, scene 3 "Land of the Snow" from "The Nutcracker" production at the Leo Welder Center.

Julie Janecka performed as the Snow Queen from act 1, scene 3 "Land of the Snow" from "The Nutcracker" production at the Leo Welder Center.

In between the two school performances of "The Nutcracker," the dancers flooded the back of the Leo J. Welder Center on Thursday.

Their hair was pulled back into tight little buns and springy curls fastened with bows and ribbons.

Among them were sisters Stella and Melbourn Motl, who returned to the stage in new roles in the Victoria Ballet Theatre's "The Nutcracker."

Stella, 9, performed in front of her third-grade classmates from HJM Elementary School in Port Lavaca for the first time as one of the clouds.

"It's exciting because you have a lot of people watching, and you have to practice a lot to be perfect," she said in her solid blue velour sweat suit.

Her hard work is paying off. She first performed in the ballet at age 3 as a cherub and has climbed the ranks to her role as a cloud.

She's following in the footsteps of her sister, who also started in "The Nutcracker" as a cherub and is dancing this year as a party girl and solider for each performance.

"I love dancing in 'The Nutcracker,'" said Melbourn, 11, who attends Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic School in Port Lavaca. "I want to be the Arabian or Russian lead."

The girls spent the intermission chatting with friends while others caught up on their Nintendo DS games and others filled in coloring books.

Meanwhile, trails of students from all over the Crossroads were winding through the aisles and finding their seats, ready for the 12:30 p.m. show to begin.

Erin Conaway's Meyersville School third-graders took up two rows in the audience. Zander Lee had one of the best seats in the house for his first experience of watching the ballet.

He sat in the front row next his classmate Carlie Parsons, 9, who watched the performance with her mom and aunt last year.

"It's good entertainment for kids and parents," she said matter-of-factly, through the gap where her two front teeth once were.

Before the lights dimmed, Zander, 9, admitted he wasn't a big fan of ballet.

But as the music played through the speakers and the glow of the lights waxed and waned, his eyes were glued to the stage as the dancers moved. They went from left to right in leaps and at times flips and cartwheels.

When the rats came out, the third-graders giggled.

"My favorite part was when they had the battle, and they shot the rats," said Zander with a smile.

During the scene change, the students would whisper about the dark and how they were scared. But when the lights beamed onto the new set, ohs, ahs and gasps escaped their dropped jaws.

In addition to the local dancers, the Victoria Ballet Theatre is hosting guest dancers from the Houston Ballet.

As the curtain fell, the students in the audience cheered and applauded.

Stella and Melbourne stood outside the auditorium, greeting the students and thanking them for watching the show.

"It was pretty fun," Stella said about performing in front of her classmates. "They said it was pretty cool."



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