Take a moment to meet a few of our talented dancers….
Natalie- “Sugar Plum Fairy”
Natalie is 18 years old and a senior at Carmel High School. She began dancing ballet at the age of 3 at her pre-school. When she was 5, she started at the Pacific Ballet Academy in Mountain View (Russian ballet style) and performed in her first Nutcracker as one of Mother Ginger’s children. She loved being on stage and said that one day she wanted to be the Sugar Plum Fairy. And that day has arrived this year because of her hard work and dedication to ballet.
When Natalie was 8, her family moved to the Carmel area and she began her tenure with Tia Brown Rosenblum. The parts in the Nutcracker were small at first, but Natalie moved up through the ranks each year: from the party scene child to lead angel to rat to garland. After attending Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet Intensive in the summer after 7th grade, she was thrilled to take on the role of Clara in 8th grade. The following year she danced the role of Rose Queen and Snow Flake.
“The Nutcracker has always been a special part of my life and I am honored to perform in the MPBT show as Sugar Plum,” said Natalie. “I want to make my parents and Tia proud.”
Besides performing in the Nutcracker, Natalie has been on the Dance Team with Tia for 8 years. Shealso dances at Carmel High and is Co-President of the Dance Company this year. Last year she won both the Choreographer of the Year and Best Dance Concept Awards at the high school. Currently, Natalie is busy working on her college applications. She is thinking about majoring in Biology or Business, and minoring in Dance. Her favorite class in school is AP Calculus.
Natalie lives in Pebble Beach with her parents, Keith and Susan, and their 2 dogs, Lola and Bella.
Norah is 12 years old and homeschools through Ocean Grove Charter School. She started dancing locally at age 2 with Monica Ringer, whom she credits with sparking her love of dance! Shortly after, she began dancing with Laura Jeselnick, whose talent and influence further inspired her passion. At age 10, Norah began training under Tia Brown Rosenblum and her dancing evolved in ways she never imagined were possible. Along with Laura and Tia, Norah would like to thank her other incredible teachers who have blessed her with their talent, kindness, and creativity. Laura Lobo, Maryann DeAngelis, Harmony True, Amanda Spencer, and Kitty Bloch, have been invaluable in her development as a dancer.
This is Norah’s third year dancing on one of The Dance Center’s competition teams. She loves performing and is inspired by the talent of her teammates. According to Norah, “It’s too hard to pick my favorite style of dance because I love them all! But I guess if I had to I would pick pointe, ballet, and contemporary.” Norah currently assists in three classes at TDC. She loves children and being able to help in their classes is always a highlight of her year.
Norah’s favorite subjects are writing and history. When she isn’t dancing, she loves to spend time reading and writing, baking, playing at the beach, and hanging out with her friends. She wants to follow in her dad’s footsteps and become a Physical Therapist, ideally working with professional dancers. Norah’s favorite dance company is Smuin Ballet, and she always tries to catch a performance when they are in town.
Norah lives in Seaside with her parents; Sarah and James; brother, Evan; and little dog Max. This is Norah’s first year performing in the Nutcracker, and she is thrilled and honored to be playing the role of Clara!
Skye is a 14-year-old freshman at Carmel High School. He first realized his love and passion in the performing arts when he was 7 years old. He starred in Sleeping Beauty as the King, and this inspired him to really get involved in the arts. His cousin had always performed locally in the Nutcracker for many years which also sparked Skye’s interests in performing. He then decided at the age of 8 to audition for the Nutcracker to keep the family legacy going. Even though at that time in his life he had no formal training in dance; in his first year of auditioning for the Nutcracker, he got a lead part as Fritz. This was the beginning of his journey dancing with Tia.
Tia has always instilled in him to push himself to thrive as a dancer and never give up when things get tough: a life lesson that will carry him through in many ways. From this point, Skye submerged himself in musical theatre performances.
Skye’s favorite genre of dance is ballet, which he just started with formal training this year. He has a love for ballet because it is a challenge and helps him with focus both mentally and physically. He also likes tap because he loves to feel the beat in his feet.
Skye is a lover of life. He loves school and his favorite subject is mathematics. When Skye isn’t performing, he loves being with his friends, he is a music fanatic, enjoys skiing, biking, swimming, volleyball, and spending time with family.
One of Skye’s lifelong goals is to bring joy and happiness to the world through dance and the performing arts. He is thrilled to be part of his new journey of the Nutcracker with his MPBT family.
Sophie is a 13-year-old eighth grader who discovered her passion for dance when she was 4 years old. At her very first dance recital, she performed a piece that was half ballet and half tap. When she was met by friends and family after the performance, she let everyone know she was going to be doing a lot of performing!
She soon expanded her training to include all styles of dance, including: jazz, lyrical, contemporary, tap, and hip-hop. She was a gymnast when she was younger and still enjoys acrobatics and incorporating them into her dance.
Sophie joined the competition team when she was 8 and has been competing ever since. She has also been in several productions of the Nutcracker and is delighted to be playing the part of the Mouse Queen in Monterey Peninsula Ballet Theatre’s inaugural production. “I am so excited to be partnering for the first time and to learn new lifts!”
Sophie is homeschooled so that she can focus more on dance and she also enjoys taking voice lessons. She lives in Monterey with her mom and dad.
Katie- “Rose Queen”
Katie is 15 years old and a sophomore at The Stevenson School. She began dancing at the age of three. After taking a break from dance at age nine to travel to over 50 countries around the world as well as to play several team sports, she returned to her passion for ballet when she was 12. During her travels, she was especially inspired by watching the Bolshi Ballet perform Swan Lake in St. Petersburg, Russia. She trained at the Florida School for Dance Education in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and participated in their annual dance performances.
Last year, Katie moved to California and began her first year under the instruction of Tia Brown Rosenblum at The Dance Center (TDC). Also, she performed her first pointe solo at Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP). As a result of Tia’s exceptional teaching, Katie participated in this past summer’s five-week ballet program at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) which further improved her technical skills and developed her confidence as a dancer.
This year, Katie is incredibly excited to perform in another YAGP competition, audition for multiple summer intensives, and compete with TDC’s ballet team. She is especially thrilled for her roles in The Nutcracker as Rose Queen, Clara’s Friend, and a Snowflake.
“I feel so fortunate to have found my passion for dance. My commitment to dance is both demanding and rewarding. There is such a sense of accomplishment after a performance. It reinforces how much we have grown as dancers and the wonderful friendships we have made,” said Katie. “Also, Tia has been so inspirational. I am grateful to her as she continues to motivate me to exceed my expectations. I hope to make my family, friends, and teachers proud this Nutcracker season.”
Katie lives in Pebble Beach with her parents, John and Lynda, her twin brother, Jack, and her beloved dog, Laddie.
Ruby Jean has been an aspiring dancer from the age of 3. She is currently 13 and in the 8th grade, homeschooled through Ocean Grove. Self-motivated scholastically, homeschooling has been more enriching and currently she loves history. She made the shift to homeschooling to focus on dance and it has also given her more time for family and friends.
Dance has been Ruby’s focus since the moment she put on ballet shoes. When she was 3 years old she was on stage in her first Nutcracker. There was no turning back once she felt the thrill of performing on stage in front of a live audience.
Ballet was her first discipline and from there has branched into all styles of dance. She was invited to train with Tia Brown Rosenblum on pointe when she was 10 years old. Ruby had to leave pointe for a short time to focus on her lyrical solo. She really missed pointe so, this year she started pointe again which sparked her love for ballet, like never before. Ruby states, “Ballet is my favorite style of dance even though I feel it’s the hardest. I know ballet has taught me discipline and will be a life long study. There is always room to improve in ballet and I now understand it’s importance in all my other styles. Ballet provides a critical physical foundation in dance and without it, I would not be as strong of a dancer.”
As part of her 16 dance classes per week, Ruby is a proud member of the TDC competitive dance team. She has been competing for 5 years and has received many awards. This year she is a member of the Sapphire team, competing in jazz and contemporary dance. She is also on the TDC acrobatics and ballet competition dance teams as well as, a member of a trio. Ruby also has a solo contemporary piece that she takes to competition for TDC. She performs her solo for TDC and as an independent competitor, giving her more opportunities to perform around the state.
Ruby is committed to all styles of dance and enjoys assisting classes as well as taking them. Her primary coach is Tia Brown Rosenblum, but she is also trained by Maryann DeAngles, Amanda Spencer, Laura Lobo, and Harmony True.
Ruby aspires to work professionally in dance and perform in front of many different audiences. Her vision is to be a part of a company that focuses on contemporary pointe. Her vision includes education and travel with a degree in dance as well as being part of a performing troupe or company.
This year’s Nutcracker will mark the fourth time she has performed in the Arabian scene. Starting as a Mini Arabian then moving onto Jr. Lead Arabian, it has always been her dream, to one day become the lead Arabian. This year her dreams have come true and she feels incredibly honored and grateful to perform as the lead Arabian.
Besides her gratitude to the coaches who believe in her, she wants to give her family and friends a big thank you for the love, support and continuous rides that keep her dance dreams alive.
Brianna- “Candy Cane”
Brianna is a 19-year-old college sophomore who currently attends Monterey Peninsula College. She began dancing ballet and tap at the age of 2, but eventually grew to specifically love ballet. Her training has consistently remained throughout studios on the central coast, spending the majority of her time at Spector Dance in Marina. With this studio being across the street from her house, she was able to join their youth company, perform seasonally, and train in their summer intensives. Brianna also attended competitions, in her early teen years, under a studio called Momentum which closed shortly after their first competitive season.
Brianna’s journey with Tia began at the late age of 17. Their meeting was spontaneous, as a friend and former student of Tia had reached out to both intending that the two would be a perfect student/teacher match before the opening of The Dance Center. Her friend was right. During her senior year of high school Brianna danced on The Dance Center’s first Ballet and Senior competitive teams. This will be her first ever Nutcracker performance, receiving the lead role of Candy Cane.
“I am just so excited to be wearing a tutu. It may sound silly, but I feel like receiving your first real tutu is such an honor. It is every little girl’s dream and what every little girl in the studio works so hard to achieve. Pointe shoes are painful, but for some reason, we work hard for those as well. I feel so lucky to be able to showcase a lifetime’s worth of hard work to my parents and to Tia. Tia truly changed my life.”
Brianna is working hard as a college student and dance instructor. She is currently applying as a transfer student to a four-year university for next fall. Her intended major is Fashion Design and Merchandising with a minor in Dance. Her favorite subjects currently include Gender Women’s Studies and Environmental Science.
Brianna currently lives with her parents, Pam and Jon, her grandmother, Sandy and her two dogs Diamond and Princess.
Claire– “Lead Spanish”
Claire is 13 years old, and is an 8th grade Honor Student at Santa Catalina School. She has been dancing since she was 3 years old, with Laura Jeselnick and Monica Ringer being two of her first teachers. In addition to ballet and pointe, Claire has studied jazz, lyrical, tap, contemporary, acrobatics, and hip-hop. Her favorite genres are ballet and contemporary, and she particularly enjoys improvisation.
Claire has danced on Team for 5 years and has also competed on the Ballet and Tap Teams. Last Fall, Claire was honored to be asked to dance on the Sunset Center’s parade float for Carmel’s Centennial Celebration, where she did contemporary improvisation for the entire parade. That experience inspired her to compete several solos as improv last year, usually unbeknownst to the judges! She is incredibly grateful to Tia Brown Rosenblum and Maryann DeAngelis for that opportunity, and for giving her the skills and the courage to follow her passion.
Claire’s first experience dancing for Tia was in the Nutcracker six years ago as a Baby Ballerina Doll. Since then, she has been blessed to work closely with Tia in 3 more Nutcrackers, in many classes, as well as through her experiences competing on Team. Claire loves learning from Tia because, “She pushes us to work REALLY hard, and to be our absolute best. She is always supportive and encouraging”.
Previously, Claire has played the roles of Jr Spanish, Jr Arabian, Jr Reed Pipe, Jr Seraphim, Baby Ballerina Doll, Candy Cane corp, Child at the Party, and Snowdust. The Spanish Lead is Claire’s first solo role in Nutcracker, and she is thrilled and honored to be wearing a platter tutu on stage for the first time!
When she is not dancing, Claire enjoys playing volleyball, swimming, going to the beach, reading, and listening to music. Her favorite subjects in school are math and science, and she aspires to be a pediatric surgeon someday. Claire lives with her parents, KC and Susanne, her sister, Madeleine, her 2 cats, Cody and Lily, and her Labradoodle, Ella. Claire is very grateful to Tia and Maryann and all of her dance instructors for their love and support, and for making her into the dancer she is today.
Melina- “Reed Pipe”
Melina is 15 years old and is a junior at Stevenson School. Two years ago, with no knowledge of ballet, Melina decided she finally wanted to pursue dance after wanting to for years. She initially started taking private lessons with Laura Jeselnick, and then Tia Brown Rosenblum, who both believed strongly in Melina and brought her up to speed. Melina is dedicated to achieving excellence. She attends more than 12 hours a week of mainly ballet instruction at TDC and Stevenson. Melina competed for the first time last year with a classical solo and Ballet Team and is competing this year in the same two categories.
Melina is very excited to perform for first time in the Nutcracker, as a Reed Pipe, Snowflake, and Flower. “When I had my first private with Laura, she asked me where I wanted to go with dance, and I answered that I want to be on pointe, and 6 months later I was. I am so thankful to Laura and Tia for believing in me and pushing me to always do better regardless of how old I was when I started. Without their encouragement, I would not have found my true passion.”
Outside of dance, Melina’s favorite subjects are AP Biology and Calculus, and she wants to become a trauma surgeon one day. She also fosters puppies and kittens who are either ill or need a place to stay until they can be placed in a forever home through the Animal Friends and Rescue Project. Melina lives in Pebble Beach with her father, mother, older sister Elaine, and her cat and dog, Pebble and Bentley.
Grace- “Angel Queen”
Grace is a fifteen year old sophomore, homeschooling through Ocean Grove. She’s also taking Anatomy at Monterey Peninsula College. She began dancing at the age of nine in an afterschool enrichment cheer pom class. The teacher of that class then recommended her to a small studio near her home in Pacific Grove. At that studio she danced for three years, competing on their jazz and contemporary competition team.
Grace has been dancing with Tia since 2015 when Tia and Laura opened The Dance Center. Her first year dancing at TDC, Tia placed Grace on the senior competition team where all of her teammates were at least 3 years older than her. By doing this, Tia really pushed her farther than she thought she could go and she improved greatly as a dancer and person. Grace is currently in her third year of competing with TDC’s jazz and contemporary team and her second year competing with the Ballet Team. Grace’s favorite genre of dance is Jazz and Pointe is a close second.
This year will be Grace’s first time ever performing in the Nutcracker and only her second time ever seeing the show. Her lead role is the Angel Queen, but she will also be on stage as one of Clara’s friends, a snowflake, and a flower. “I am so excited to be dancing on stage with a pancake tutu!” she exclaimed when she first tried on her Angel tutu.
Grace’s favorite subject in school in English because she loves to read and write. She would like to graduate college with a biology degree and also attend medical school to become a pediatrician. In her free time, Grace would like to teach dance because she loves assisting with the classes at TDC. She has been assisting for three years and this year she is helping both Laura Jeselnick and Laura Lobo with a two’s too class, a preschool class, beginning contemporary and the Pearl competition team.
Grace lives in Pacific Grove with her mom, step-dad, brothers, Noah and Logan, sister, Camille, and their dog at one house and her dad and step-mom at the other house.