Rehearsals are under way for Next Generation Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Straz Center.
For Rebecca Martin, who joined the Patel Conservatory staff as the lead ballet teacher this fall, it’s a fresh, new take on the classical holiday favorite.
“I’ve done a lot of different Nutcrackers...It’s exciting for me to be able to learn a new Nutcracker, and then pass it on to the kids,” she said.
Martin joined us from the Orlando Ballet School, where she was the artistic coordinator for their south location.
Getting to know the students at the Conservatory has been an exciting experience.
“Just being part of the Straz Center, it feels like a serious place to dance,” she said.
Martin teaches both younger classes as well as the NGB trainees. She enjoys the enthusiasm of the younger students, some of whom have never experienced The Nutcracker, and the dedication and focus of the advanced students.
“Working with the trainees is a new opportunity...it’s fun to be able to put together more complicated combinations, and then work on stylistic details with them. They seem to pick things up pretty quickly,” she said.
In addition to working on The Nutcracker, she’s been helping prepare some students for the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) regional competition, which will be at the Straz Center in January.
“I’m excited about that,” said Martin. “The pressure of going through a competition, of going on stage and performing in front of judges, is intense for the students. They’re really trying to perfect what they’re doing.”
As a coach, she dedicates time to making sure they not only know the steps, but also the story behind the steps, which helps them get into their characters and bring life to the choreography.
“The performances at YAGP showcase the students. But they also represent the Conservatory as a whole,” she said.
Martin danceed for nearly four years with the Georgia Ballet in Atlanta. Her Nutcracker roles included the Snow Queen, Dew Drop and the Arabian.
One of her favorite performances with the Georgia Ballet was as the Sea Creature in Where the Wild Things Are, choreographed by Septime Webre. “That was really interesting choreography.”
Being at the Conservatory has been a wonderful opportunity for her, she said.
"I've been impressed with the students, and I'm enjoying being involved with a variety of levels at the school while working beside an outstanding faculty,” she said. “ I feel valued here, and encouraged to share my talents”