Virginia National Ballet Presents Special Nutcracker 

The Junior Company and students from Gainesville Ballet School join professionals on stage

By Nicole Roberts

As soon as Thanksgiving is over (if not before!) our thoughts turn to Christmas and the winter holidays…decorations, lights, Christmas trees, Christmas carols…and so much more. For many families, seeing a performance of the Nutcracker is a treasured holiday tradition. The day after Thanksgiving, the Virginia National Ballet, with students and dancers from the Junior Company at Gainesville Ballet School, will present this popular favorite ballet at the elegant Hylton Performing Arts Center. With family friendly prices, this is the perfect way to kick off the holidays!

This extremely popular, stand-out production features a cast of award-winning international dancers from Brazil, Japan, and the United States, along with the dancers from Gainesville Ballet School. Prepare to be thrilled by the exquisite performances of stars Saaya Pikula, Leandro de Almeida, Emanuel Tavares, and more. Audiences will also enjoy the gorgeous production with fantastic choreography, updated costumes, sets, and new special effects in this year’s performances.

Sharing the coveted role of Clara this year are students Zoe Frantz and Camila Griggs. This will be their second year performing every young ballerina’s dream role, so their dancing and interpretation will be even stronger with the experience of having performed the role previously. Both Zoe and Camila are beautiful young dancers who will be competing for the first time in Youth America Grand Prix this season. Zoe is 13 years old, and an 8th grader at Marsteller Middle School. Zoe’s older sister Zeli is a senior at Patriot High School, and she will be gracing the stage as the Arabian Soloist, Flowers, and Snowflakes. Camila, also a 13 year old, is an 8th grader at Bull Run Middle School.

Chloe Banachoski, a 17-year-old senior at Brentsville District High School, and a student at Gainesville Ballet for ten years, will be dancing the Angel Queen, Flowers, and Snowflakes. This performance will be bittersweet for Chloe, as it’s her last Nutcracker with Virginia National Ballet, her ballet home for so many years.

Gainesville Ballet School was voted Best Dance Studio in Northern Virginia 2017 in Northern Virginia Magazine. The company has been a finalist in the Seefeldt Awards in 2016 and 2017 for Outstanding Arts Organization, and artistic director Rafik Hegab was a finalist in 2017 for Outstanding Individual Artist. Hegab is also in demand in the region as a guest choreographer and master teacher.

Their 2017-18 five-year anniversary season also includes participation in the Arts Alive Festival at the Hylton in September (where they will present excerpts from last year’s hit, Bohemian Rhapsody to the music of Queen), the World Premiere of the ballet Aida in February, the thrilling Carmina Burana and the world premiere of Hegab’s Bolero in May. They will also present a spring performance at the Hylton in June, including a tour to the Pro Art Series at UVA-Wise in April.

Virginia National Ballet and Gainesville Ballet School are thrilled to present the 5th annual production of the Nutcracker at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on Friday, November 24, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Ticket prices are also very family friendly, ranging from $15 to $35.

Tickets sell quickly for Virginia National Ballet’s Nutcracker performances at the Hylton. Get yours early at the Hylton Box Office, or online at (search “Virginia National Ballet”).

Led by Directors Elysabeth Muscat Hegab and Rafik Hegab, Virginia National Ballet has skyrocketed in popularity in a few short years. The nonprofit company is one of a small group of select dance companies to be on the Virginia Commission for the Arts Touring Directory, and will be touring in the State of Virginia this season. Supporting institutions include The National Endowment for the Arts, Virginia Commission for the Arts, Prince William County, NOVEC, The Dominion Energy Foundation, and Wegmans.


Photo: Gainesville Ballet School Junior Company’s dancer Zoe Frantz, 12 years old, who is sharing the role of Clara with Junior Company dancer Camila Griggs. Photo courtesy of Melanie Beus.



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