Tulsa Ballet dancers coming to Pinckney

Sophia Menteguiaga

I won’t be the only Oklahoma dancer spending my winter holidays in the mitten.

Sofia Menteguiaga, Tulsa Ballet soloist, and Alfonso Martin, Tulsa Ballet principal, will appear as guest artists Dec. 3 and 4 the Fountain Dance Ministry‘s production of the Nutcracker. The ballet will be performed at Jane Tasch Performing Arts Theatre, 2100 E. M-36, in Pinckney.

As a young dancer, I remember going to the company’s annual production when Fountain Dance Ministry was known as Brighton City Ballet. While sickled feet and bent knees were masked with smiles – as expected from youngsters – the professional dancers hired to perform the Caviler and Sugar Plum Fairy roles filled a void.

And, there’s something about any rendition of the two-act ballet that makes a young girl’s inner sugar plum fairy come to life.

Brighton City Ballet’s Nutcracker has been performed for 25 years, said Deborah Shiposh, co-director of the company. The company joined with Debbie Tweedie in 2007 to form Fountain Dance Ministry, and guest artists have performed with in the production for more than 20 years.

“I feel like they just bring a sense of excitement to the kids and usually they have wonderful guest artists with the company,” she said. “It’s a wonderful experience.”

The company hires dancers each year through an agent, Shiposh said. Past guests have included dancers from Boston Ballet and Milwaukee Ballet.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the company’s production, but I plan to attend this year. I hope to not only be enchanted by the sounds of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s score, but the professional “umph” Menteguiaga and Martin are bound to bring.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $17 for children teens and senior citizens. They go on sale at the end of October.

Amanda Whitesell has more than 20 years of training in the performing arts and entertainment industries. She is the Web Editor and a Staff Reporter for the Livingston Daily Press & Argus. Email her at awhitesell@gannett.com.

The truth about turnout

I used to spend hours in front of the TV — not on the couch — but on the floor in “frog” position, as it has been coined. My goal was improving my turnout to be 180 rotation, which is something Dr. William G. Hamilton deemed unlikely to do in Dance Magazine.

Hamilton, the orthopedic consultant for New York City Ballet, said dancers can’t improve their turnout much. “The extent of this motion is limited by the alignment and architecture of the ball and socket joint itself,” he told the magazine.

I remember taking a mirror photo of my self  during high school in my butterfly position. I wanted to document what my position looked like before and after I attended a summer intensive at American Ballet Theatre. The humorous part is that I never took the after picture, only to find that the distance from my knees to the ground in the position hadn’t improved — at all.

I spent my spare time in college in the Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management doing homework in the frog position. I contracted my muscles, adjusting every two minutes or so, in hopes of improving the ease of steps like my rond de jambe en l’air. Little did I know that dancers only are able to tweak the extent of their turnout slightly until they are about 12 or 13, Hamilton said in Dance Magazine.

I suggest that you save your breath if you’re trying dramatically to improve your hip rotation in your college years. Conceal your less-than-180 degree turnout when performing an adagio by angling your body more toward the front than the side. Resist the temptation to rotate in too early when transitioning your leg from the side to back in rond de jame. And most importantly, remind yourself that you’ve surpassed the ripe age of 13, so it’s acceptable to not possess perfect turnout.