Out & About

December 20, 2012

Dancing 'The Nutcracker' on both sides of the border

Local girl is sole young American in Canadian 'The Nutcracker'

BEEKMANTOWN — Madison Cleveland’s world is a stage of dance.

“Dancing is my love,” said the freshman at Beekmantown Central School. “It makes me happy. My passion is to dance.”

She first placed her fingers on a ballet barre at age 3 in New Jersey. When her family relocated to the North Country, she continued her studies with the North Country Ballet Ensemble at age 6. She has performed in the ensemble’s annual “Nutcracker” productions, dancing the roles of Bon-Bon, Mouse, Angel, Claire, Snow, Waltz, Party Girl, Candy Cane, Russian, Arabian and Soldier Doll.

“I remember after my part was done and the little kids went off, we watched the older girls,” Cleveland said. “I would sit backstage and say, ‘Wow. I want to be like them.’”

When she was 9, her mother took her to a see a “Swan Lake” production by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal at Place des Arts.

“The theater was huge,” Cleveland said. “When the dancers came on, it was just magical. It was amazing. They glided across the stage with such grace.”

After the performance, she went to the stage to get a keepsake feather.

“I turned around, and I looked up at the theater. I saw the balcony and all the seats. It was just amazing. I knew I wanted to perform there.”

For the past three years, she has.

This season, she has three “The Nutcracker” performances behind her and six to go to fulfill her contract with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.

“This year, I got an even better part. I got Oriental,” Cleveland said.

Her costume is turquoise harem-style pants and a top.

“It shows your belly. It has jewels over it and beads, and it’s all handmade. It’s beautiful. It’s not as heavy as the Angel costume (two previous roles). It’s also very light. You wear your hair in a flat bun, so you can put the hat over it,” she said. “The costumes, you feel so beautiful in them. You feel you can do anything.” 

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