ST. ANSGAR | Dancing nutcrackers, angels, mice, a sugar plum fairy and snowflakes – all part of the magic of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, “The Nutcracker.”
For Maggi Steele, St. Ansgar, the magic of that ballet will come to life in a special way as she appears on Friday, Dec. 5, as an Arabian Dancer in the Moscow Ballet’s production of “The Great Russian Nutcracker” in Rochester, Minn.
The Moscow Ballet is the first professional ballet company with which Maggi has had the opportunity to perform. She has appeared in a much shorter version of the ballet with her dance studio.
She has performed in Riverland Community College’s productions of “Annie Get Your Gun” and “White Christmas” in Austin, Minn.
Maggi’s appearance in this production was due, in part, to her mom, Marti, telling her instructor, Miss Bridget, that she was going.
“I overheard my mom telling someone that I was going to be auditioning,” said Maggi, “and I said ‘I am?’”
Miss Bridget has worked in the past to help find dancers for the traveling company when it has appeared in the area in past years, said Marti.
“When I went to audition, there were about 15 other girls my age,” said Maggi. “I thought I was auditioning for the part of a snowflake or a mouse.”
On the day of the audition, the girls auditioned with a Russian ballerina named Miss Olga.
“It was nothing like I expected,” said Maggi. “She went through the dance steps one time and she didn’t repeat any moves.
“The audition was one hour long. It was tough.”
“They were looking for dancers to dance the different variations during the Nutcracker Ballet,” said Marti. “They chose Maggi for the Arabian variation.
“I believe it was her core moves that got her the part.”
“When they told me I had a part, I didn’t know it was a big part,” said Maggi. “Most of the dances are a minute or so long, mine is four minutes.”
Maggi, along with a girl from Austin, were each chosen to perform a dance variation.
The following day, Maggi returned to spend time with Miss Olga learning her particular dance.
“She did the dance twice, with music,” said Maggi. “It wasn’t easy.”
Besides practicing in her personal dance studio, her parents installed a ballet bar and mirrors in her room and she spends about one hour on Tuesday nights in rehearsal between dance lessons.
Maggi will have just the day to complete costuming and rehearse with the full ballet company.
“It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Maggi. “I think it probably will the week before I perform.”
Maggi, an eighth grader at St. Ansgar Middle School, started dancing when she was three years old in Osage’s Just For Kix, then in St. Ansgar Just For Kix.
For the past three years, she has been taking dance lessons at Acclaim Studio of Dance in Austin, Minn.
“I enjoyed dancing with Just For Kix,” said Maggi, “but I liked ballet more and Acclaim offered it specifically.”
“When we saw her first dance, from the flow of her arms, to the movement of her body, her dad (Marc) and I knew ballet was her dance,” said Marti.
Maggi’s enjoys the classical ballet technique is called “pointe work” or dancing on the tips of the toes, with feet fully extended.
Maggi spends four hours a week at dance practices in Austin with at least an additional eight hours of practice at home.
Steele hopes to perform someday a professional dancer in a ballet company or on Broadway.
“We see this as the next step in her journey,” said Marti. “We are at a disadvantage, geographically, not being closer to ballet companies.”
“I would love to go to Juilliard School,” said Maggi. “I don’t know where this will lead.”
“This is just the first step,” said Marti.