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Examiner
  • Local students shine in 'The Nutcracker' with Kansas City Ballet

  • Annalee Roustio has been dancing since she was 4. And now at only 14 years old, she is a member of the Flower Corps in the Kansas City Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.” “I am the youngest performer in this role, so it is a really big deal. Some of the flowers are in colle...
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  • Annalee Roustio has been dancing since she was 4. And now at only 14 years old, she is a member of the Flower Corps in the Kansas City Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.”
    “I am the youngest performer in this role, so it is a really big deal. Some of the flowers are in college or are company members, so I was excited to have this opportunity,” she said. “It is such an honor to be in this production. You almost feel like a celebrity to be a member of the cast.”
    Roustio is one of 10 children from Eastern Jackson County in the annual event. They include Roustio, Flower Corps, Independence; Avery Saxton, party scene; and Sierra Stivers, a soldier, both from Blue Springs; and Ella Connor, angel; Karina Cox, angel; Kelsey Kilmer, angel; Jillian Kranschuster, soldier; Kennedy Newell, angel; Lucy Petet, forest creature; and ArLeyah Tillman, angel; all from Lee’s Summit.
    In total, more than 200 children from the Kansas City Ballet School and 28 Kansas City Ballet company dancers are in the production.
    “For the past 39 years, we have produced this spectacular holiday classic to the delight of hundreds of thousands of adults and children,” said Jeffrey J. Bentley, executive director of the Kansas City Ballet. “Following our inaugural season on the splendid Kauffman stage, where a record number of people attended this beloved production, with rave reviews for the dancers, design, acoustical clarity and audience amenities, we are thrilled to present this much anticipated event to an even larger audience this year.”
    First performed in Russia in 1927, “The Nutcracker” was brought to the United States in 1944. The Kansas City Ballet’s production is the largest in an eight-state region.
    In addition, prior to the two-hour performance, photographs can be taken with one of the characters from “The Nutcracker.” Pictures start one hour before curtain and immediately after each performance. The $15 photos benefit the Kansas City Ballet School. This is the 40th year for the annual production.
    “I sometimes think that I would like to try doing something else, but I dance because I love it,” Roustio said. “Sure, it is a lot of hardwork, but all of that is worth it once you get on stage.”
    Stivers, a fourth grader at William Bryant Elementary School in Blue Springs said this is her first time ever to be in “The Nutcracker.” She said her favorite part is getting to wear the costumes and see the other dancers.
    “The costumes look pretty. They are fun to look at,” she said. “I like dance because I get to meet so many new friends. It’s a lot of fun.”
    Sierra’s grandparents could not be prouder of their granddaughter.
    “It is sort of like a fairy tale to see her on stage. We didn’t think she would do something like this so soon,” said Tom Stivers. “The whole experience has been very exciting. We could not be prouder.”
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