Marat Daukayev Ballet to Perform ‘Nutcracker’ at Luckman Theatre

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From left: Alexsandra Wood, Saya Kawashima, Kimika Temple, Misako Benso and Anna Yeh are among the dancers in this year’s Daukayev production of “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 14-16 at CSULA.

Students of Los Angeles Magazine’s “LA’s Best Children’s Ballet School 2011” will dance five performances of “The Nutcracker” at The Luckman Theatre on Dec. 14, 15, and 16.

The Marat Daukayev Ballet’s 12th annual production features dancers whose artistry and poise belie their young ages, in a full-length ballet complete with battling mice and soldiers, an enchanting snowy forest, and Tchaikovsky’s beloved score.

The school has a thriving boys’ program, and this year’s production features a young man trained in the school dancing the role of the Prince, which is usually performed by a professional guest artist.

Of the 150 dancers, six are of Japanese descent: Misako Benso, Saya Kawashima, Nicole Lee, Kimika Temple, Alexandra Wood, and Anna Yeh.

Misako, who lives in San Marino and is a sophomore at San Marino High School, where she is an honors student, will dance the lead role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Now 15 years old, she began ballet when she was 6. She has competed in the 2009, 2010, and 2012 Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), the world’s largest student ballet scholarship competition.

In 2009, she placed first in the pre-competitive solo at the semi-finals in San Diego and in the ensemble at the New York City finals. In 2010, she placed in the top 24 for junior classical; in 2012, she placed in the top 12 for junior classical and was invited to the New York City finals. At San Marino High School, she was selected to be the school council secretary. She has received the Presidential Award for academics and a gold medallion for excellence in academics.

Anna, a sixth-grader at Crossroads School, where she is an honors student, will dance the lead role of Masha. Now 11 years old, she began ballet when she was 3. Last February, she competed in the YAGP) and placed in the top 12 in the pre-competitive division at the Regional Semi-finals in Huntington Beach. In August, she placed in the top 24 in the Japan Grand Prix Final in Saitama and was awarded the Nara Governor Award (fifth place) at the Ballet Competition in Nara Final (Vaganova Ballet Academy).

She also excels as a gymnast, having placed first in all around, bar, beam, and vault in the California State Championships in 2009 and 2010. At the 2011 California State Championships, she placed fifth all round, third in bar, and fourth.

Acclaimed former Kirov ballet star Marat Daukayev dances the role of Drosselmeyer with his accomplished students.

One audience member, unrelated to any performers, wrote of the 2011 performance, “My hands are sore from clapping, my face is sore from smiling . . . Tchaikovsky must be smiling in heaven.”

The Luckman Theatre is located at Cal State Los Angeles, 5151 State University Drive, five miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Showtimes: Friday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 15, at 2 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 16, at 12 and 4 p.m. Tickets are $33 and can be purchased by calling the box office at (323) 343-6600 Tuesday between 12 and 6 p.m., Wednesday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., or Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

For more information, go to www.maratdaukayev.com.

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