Local D38 student wins lead in Nutcracker

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Fresh from his portrayal of one of three male leads in the Lewis-Palmer High School production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” sophomore Colton West gets to put his dancing shoes back on as he takes on the coveted role of the Prince in the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Ballet Idaho and Colorado Springs Children's Chorale presentation of “The Nutcracker.”

According to Philharmonic Communications Director Nathan Willers, “The Nutcracker” has a huge cast and all the children's parts are played by more than 150 students from local dance studios and schools from Monument to Woodland Park.

“It's exciting how the local communities get involved in this,” he said. “All the musicians are local, too.”

According to a Philharmonic news release, in the past the San Diego Ballet and Ballet Idaho have provided their own people for the top roles, including that of the Nutcracker Prince but this year that changed when young West captured the eye of Ballet Idaho Balletmaster Alex Ossadnik during auditions in August.

After the August audition, he received a phone call expressing interest in him for the lead role.

“I sent a video to Ballet Idaho and knew within three days that I had the part,” he said. “I was surprised to have the opportunity to do this. This is really an honor.”

West has been dancing since 2007, after moving with his family from Virginia to Monument. He has trained with the Peak Ballet Theatre and Zamuel Ballet in Colorado Springs and the National Ballet Academy in Denver. He is following in the footsteps of two older sisters who are also dancers.

West has danced in “The Nutcracker” before as the Prince but it was a child's dance, he said. This time he is dancing the Prince's role as his professional debut.

Dancing takes hard work and time. When he isn't playing a role in the high school musical, West takes dance classes five or six times a week and rehearses on weekends. He also does certain kinds of strength training.

“Not weight lifting,” he said. “That builds bulky muscles. Doing lifts as a dancer is more about balance and momentum.”

West still has two years of high school left and will concentrate on academics and staying motivated. Then he has big plans for life after high school.

“When I finish I want to join a professional company and play as many parts as I can,” he said. “I would also love to go to Julliard; that would be an amazing opportunity. New York City is the Holy Land of Dance.”

“The Nutcracker” will be performed at 7 p.m. on Nov. 23 and 24 and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 24 and 25. All performances are at the Pikes Peak Center. Tickets are available at www.csphilharmonic.org, http://ticketswest.rdln.com/Outlets.aspx and by calling 719-520-SHOW.

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