So much is going on! First, we welcome new dancers to our company. Ava Cobb comes to us from Ballet Arizona, Lilly Hill left the beaches of south Florida, and we scooped Ruby Mather up fresh out of completing her degree with University of Oklahoma. We have new apprentices this year, too! Sydney Driscoll (Missouri) and Shayla Winkel (Bentonville) join returning apprentices Bella Saclolo, Esther Gowin, and Harley Crabb.

Ryan is busy in the studio setting innovative new works and meeting lots of ballet fans in the area. We have an in-studio OPEN REHEARSAL coming up November 9 called FACES. This is a chance to see the dancers at work and then meet them face to face at a small reception afterward.

THE NUTCRACKER this year should NOT BE MISSED! Not only do we get to share the stage with 140 of the region’s best dance students, but we also will be dancing with some amazing professionals from other companies in the country!

Our own Ava Cobb will be dancing SNOW QUEEN with Justin Hughes from Ballet Idaho who is playing the part of SNOW KING. Justin will also be dancing lead in the RUSSIAN dance this year and we’ve heard it is pretty awesome!

Justin Rainey of Oklahoma Festival Ballet will be back as our Nutcracker Prince. We always welcome Justin back to his hometown!

Now for the icing on the cake, two dancers from American Ballet Theatre (ABT) will perform the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. For those who are not up on their ballet savvy, ABT is the national ballet of the USA. It is the home of Misty Copeland, and former home of Mikhail Baryshnikov.

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Meet Elina Miettinen

Elina was born in the Soviet Union to a Russian mother and a Finnish father. As a little girl she immigrated with her family to Finland and began taking dance lessons in Helsinki. She was soon accepted to be a full-time student at the Helsinki Dance Institute and ballet became her main focus in life.

In 2005 Elina was recognized as a young promising dancer in Finland and was awarded a Pro Dance Scholarship. She completed her ballet studies by spending a year training in Amsterdam and taking summer courses in Paris, Cannes and Copenhagen.

Elina attended numerous high profile ballet competitions in Helsinki (Finland), Mora (Sweden), Grasse (France) and New York (USA). Her performance in New York led her into signing a contract with the American Ballet Theatre as the first ballerina from Finland. After dancing with the Finnish National Ballet for two seasons Elina moved to New York in 2008 to begin her career with ABT.

Elina has performed in many continents around the globe, including Asia, Europe, Australia as well as North America. She has made guest appearances in several Nutcrackers and was invited to perform at the International Ballet Gala of Lappeenranta in Finland.

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Meet Sean Stewart

After performing in musical theater productions as a child, Sean Stewart began his study of jazz dance and tap with Lisa Clark at the age of 10. He began studying ballet two years later with Yanina Cywinska and was a professional ballet dancer by the age of 14, having joined the Joffrey II Dancers in New York under the direction of Jeremy Blanton and Gage Bush Englund. He studied for a year at the Paris Opera Ballet School before joining American Ballet Theatre. Sean performed many roles with ABT including Lankendem and Birbanto in Le Corsaire, Benno in Swan Lake, Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet, the Nutcracker Prince in The Nutcracker, Hortensio in Taming of the Shrew, as well as featured roles in modern and contemporary works by Merce Cunningham, Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky, Nacho Duato, Lar Lubovitch, Christian Holder, Lauri Stallings, Aszure Barton, Benjamin Millepied and Stanton Welch among many others. He has performed with Lar Lubovitch's company, as well as Complexions, and originated a role in The Times, They Are A' Changin', a musical play directed and choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Sean performed as a dance double for the character of Sergei in the film Center Stage. Sean has taught ballet at Peridance in NYC as well as at various schools around the country.

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