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A Delightful Dream

Colorado Conservatory of Dance dishes up a tasteful twist on a timeless tradition

Lights dim and the excited chatter of the crowd whispers into silence. In the stillness, the audience holds their breath and anticipation grows thick. Then the first sweet notes of the orchestra’s strings sing through the air. Christmas tree lights glow warm from the stage.  Poised dancers release their statuesque holds, and the timeless winter classic begins. The  Nutcracker Ballet, a staple tradition for many during the holidays, delights the young and  old through the grace and beauty of dance and music. Twists and turns, leaps and tiptoed  feet carry observers on an adventure. For some patrons of the show, nostalgia whisks them  away in memories of years passed. Other novice attendees delight in the mystery and magic  that Clara and her Nutcracker find in the Land of Sweets. To the seasoned and the fresh  viewer alike, this ballet offers our community a treat to be savored.

Multiple dance companies in the Denver metro area perform The Nutcracker, but Broomfield’s own Colorado Conservatory of Dance (CCD) offers a new twist on the holiday classic that should not be missed this year. Sandra Shih Parks, Artistic Director of CCD is bringing genuine cultural expertise from across the ocean to make certain dances in The Nutcracker  more culturally authentic. Having grown up in Taiwan, Mrs. Parks trained in the art of Classical Chinese Dance under the tutelage of masters in Taipei’s most prestigious dance companies. She’s danced her way around the world, and has been advocating for dance presentations away from stereotypes. Starting this year with the “Tea Dance,” traditionally known as the chinese Dance, Sandra intends to also recraft the Coffee (Arabian Dance) and Chocolate (Spanish Dance) dances in years to come. Part of CCD’s vision, to be diverse, equitable and inclusive, echoes strongly in Mrs. Parks’ vision for The Nutcracker. The other half of this extraordinary dance conservatory’s goal is to grow the accessibility of dance in our  community. Sandra specifically chose to share her incredible  talent and expertise through CCD because her heart beats  with this organization’s vision to make dance available to  all. “I looked around while teaching at multiple prestigious  schools and realized the importance of developing the next  generation of dance artists, cultural arts leaders, and to nurture  supporters and patrons of dance,” Parks exults.

As a non-profit organization, Colorado Conservatory of  Dance lives out its dream daily through a multitude of community  opportunities. From its signature anti-bully ballet  program and after-school ballet classes taught in local K–12  schools to hosting other resident dance companies in their  studios for their rehearsals and performances, CCD continues  to engage with the community of Broomfield. “It’s like a second  home to many,” shares Michelle Bernier, Director of Artistic  Operations for CCD. “Our studio is a place to make friends, and  share hopes, goals, and dreams.” One of Bernier’s own dreams is  to grow the company beyond excellence in ballet. She completed  her Master of Fine Arts at CU and studied dance somatics; teaching  dance by how it feels in your body, rather than how it looks. “Dance is a way of knowing.” Bernier loves helping our community  grow through the physical knowledge that dance offers.

Parks, Bernier, and the rest of the staff and faculty at Colorado  Conservatory of Dance masterfully engage all ages in our midst.  CCD provides the opportunity to discover the joy of dance by  introducing the art form to the novices among us while simultaneously  training serious dancers and holding them to the highest  of standards of this fine art. “CCD strives to provide the greatest  access and opportunity to dance education and performance.  We believe in the transformative benefits of the various dance  forms that we teach. We understand that dance extends beyond  the art, as our students learn structure, time-management, and  the cultivation of passion. These are foundational life lessons,-  career, and leadership building skills that take our students  beyond our studios, into professional companies, college, or  other endeavors” says Executive Director, Leslie Castañuela  Barnes. A stand-out amongst other dance schools and studios,  CCD focuses on diverse niches in our local community and yet  attracts world-renowned dancers and choreographers, like  Romy Karz Rapoport, who danced with “the Father of American  Ballet,” George Balanchine, and was part of the New York City  Ballet for nine years. Ms. Rapoport will be setting favorite  scenes for this year’s The Nutcracker. Principal dancers from  Boston Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet will also be featured  in the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavelier throughout the  run of the production.

A world-class dance conservatory is on our doorstep. Tiptoe over the threshold of CCD to delight your senses, enrich your  mind, and engage with a diversity of cultures. Your body and your  community will thank you. Tickets for CCD’s Nutcracker can be  bought online at nutcracker2023.com. Visit www.ccdance.org to learn more about this amazing nonprofit organization.

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