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National stars in 'Nutcracker' 

Balllet Arkansas stages seasonal hit.

click to enlarge VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS: Ballet Arkansas.
  • VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS: Ballet Arkansas.
Professional dancers Patricia Barker of Seattle and Robert Porch of Los Angeles will join Ballet Arkansas in its annual production of “The Nutcracker” on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 11-12, with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra providing Tchaikovsky’s score as accompaniment. Showtimes at Robinson Center Music Hall are 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $16 to $43. Tickets for children ages 12 and under on Sunday are half-price. Ballet Arkansas artistic director Mark Bush choreographed the show, which will also feature Bulgaria native Stanko Milov, now of Seattle, in the role of Cavalier opposite Barker’s Sugar Plum Fairy, with Porch as the Nutcracker Prince. Also, all of the story’s favorite characters — Uncle Drosselmeyer, Clara, pesky brother Fritz and the dancing dolls — will be reintroduced. The rollicking “battle scene” will feature a variety of local dancers as mice and soldiers who welcome the Nutcracker Prince. Porch, back for the second consecutive year, received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and toured throughout China performing in the “Ballet Aladdin” with the Los Angeles Dance Ensemble, under the direction of Bush. For the past year, Porch has performed as a guest artist in “The Nutcracker” with the Long Beach Ballet and in “La Perichole” with the Long Beach Opera. When not dancing, Porch is a noted actor and has performed on stages throughout California. Act II opens with the magic of the Sugar Plum Fairy, performed by Barker, and her Cavalier, performed by Milov. Barker is a principal dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet and is a ballerina of some renown. Barker trained at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School and is best known for the lead role of Clara in “Nutcracker the Motion Picture.” Recently, she starred as Titania in the BBC film, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Her numerous guest appearances include work with the New York City Ballet, the Gala of the Stars in Prague, Le Gala des Etoiles in Montreal and Titas Command Performance of International Ballet Stars in Dallas, Pittsburgh and the Royal Danish Ballet. Milov began his ballet training at the State Choreographic School in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he graduated with honors in 1992. He also won the National Ballet Competition in Bulgaria and has since won numerous international awards. In the U.S., he was a principal dancer with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater before becoming a principal dancer with the Northwest Pacific Ballet. An interesting addition to the cast is KATV, Channel 7, reporter and “Daybreak” anchor Christina Munoz, who will perform the role of a “Party Parent” in the Act I party scene. Munoz is a student of Bush’s and will be appearing in one of his productions for the first time. Call the ASO at 666-1761 for tickets.
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