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Nutcracker Presented by Allen Civic Ballet

An Interview with Allen Civic Ballet President and Artistic Director, Stefanie Best

Article by Angi Burns

Photography by Allen Civic Ballet, Mary Muller

Originally published in Allen City Lifestyle

ACL: Can you tell us about Allen Civic Ballet's history?

SB: I had been running the Allen Conservatory of Dance since 1995, and our school production of “Nutcracker” had become increasingly popular within the community.  In 1999, I felt the time was right to create a separate performing company, The Allen Civic Ballet. 

The Allen Civic Ballet has two goals.  First, we seek to offer affordable, educational, and entertaining dance programs to the citizens of the greater Allen community.  Our second goal is to provide supplementary education, performing experience, support, and resources to young dancers considering a career in the profession.  To this end, the Ballet presents the “Nutcracker” ballet each December, with live music provided by the Allen Philharmonic.  

ACL: Will you share specifically about your upcoming performance of "Nutcracker" and why it is a special production?

SB: Every production is special because each performance is unique.  Every year we change some choreography or add new costumes or have new guest artists.  The most special aspect of this year’s “Nutcracker” is the caliber of the guest artist we have contracted to dance with our Sugar Plum Fairy.

ACL: Can you elaborate on the guest artist who will be joining the company?

SB: This year our guest artist is Tiit Helimets, Principal Dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. Tiit Helimets was born in Viljandi, Estonia and received his ballet training at the Tallinn Ballet School. In 2005, Mr. Helimets joined the San Francisco Ballet as a principal dancer. Tiit has been a guest dancer here twice before in productions that the Allen Civic Ballet did in partnership with the Allen Philharmonic.  But this is the first time he has been asked to partner one of our own dancers.  Our Sugar Plum Fairy this year is 15-year-old Mia Heath. Mia was a 2022 Finalist at Youth America Grand Prix, the largest student ballet competition for scholarship.  YAGP awarded Mia a full scholarship to the prestigious HARID Conservatory.  

ACL: How did the partnership for this production with Allen Philharmonic Symphony come about?

SB: We have worked with the Allen Philharmonic on a number of projects throughout the years.  So when the Performing Arts Center opened in 2010 with an orchestra pit, I leapt at the chance to have them play for our “Nutcracker” productions!  

ACL: Tell us a bit about some of the philanthropy projects that your organization is involved in.

SB: Help is always available from us to dancers in need. We have a pointe shoe fund. At over $100 a pair, pointe shoes are a great necessity for dancers who go through a pair every couple of weeks. There are also scholarships available as well. We have donated performances for various community events and fundraisers. Our favorite charitable endeavor is our annual “Pirouettes for Pets,” a free dance concert to raise funds for the Allen Animal Shelter.

ACL: How can we get tickets or learn more?

SB: Allen Civic Ballet (501c3 nonprofit) is located at 602 E. Main St., Suite E, Allen, TX 75002. For more information, visit or contact Stefanie Best, President and Artistic Director, via email at or phone at 972-467-0712.

“Nutcracker” will be performed at the Allen Performing Arts Center on December 17 at 7 p.m. and December 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale at