Maria Chapman

Chapman as Myrta in "Giselle." Photo by Angela Sterling.

With her serene stage presence and powerful, statuesque frame, Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Maria Chapman embodies both grace and strength. The ballerina began studying dance intensively at Terpsichore Co., Ltd., in Atlanta, GA, and continued her training on full scholarship at the School of American Ballet in NYC. Chapman first came to PNB as an apprentice in 1995, joined the main company in 1996 and steadily climbed through the ranks, achieving the title of soloist in 2005 and principal in 2009. Though Seattle audiences know her for her vibrant performances of George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, her work extends beyond the theater: In 1998 she helped create Second Stage, a PNB program that supports dancers transitioning into other careers. Check out Chapman performing this month in PNB’s “Love Stories” program.  —Amy Smith

 

Chapman at age 12 in the Boston Ballet summer program. Photo courtesy Maria Chapman.

Dearest Maria,

You are growing up so fast—slow down! You are in a wonderful phase of your life and it will be gone before you realize it. You have the skills you need to take care of yourself, but you don’t have to act like an adult yet. Don’t take yourself so seriously!


Realize that your friends are going through the same things you are. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about your feelings. You will all be friends for life, so you should begin supporting each other now.

Don’t be embarrassed about starting your intensive ballet training a little “late.” You will still make it! You don’t realize it now, but you actually started preparing for your ballet career before you knew it. Gymnastics, running track, playing the violin—these things gave you great tools. Use them. And keep running. It will help you get through that crazy growth spurt!

Whenever you’re frustrated, do something that makes you happy. Taking pleasure in ballet class—or even just homework—will make your problems easier to handle. You are going to dance for a long time, through many ups 
and downs; keeping a positive attitude will make a huge difference.

Be sweet to and confident in yourself. Know that just being you 
is enough. You don’t have to change anything!  



Love,

The grown-up, ballerina you,

Maria Chapman

Photo by Lee Gumbs, courtesy Taja Riley

Taja Riley's bold, full-out presence and unique ability to mix hard-hitting hip hop with smooth, sensual choreography paved the way for her success in the commercial industry. She's danced with music icons like Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Pitbull, and Bruno Mars, and has assisted with choreography for Britney Spears' Femme Fatale tour, Demi Lovato's Skyscraper tour, and Beyoncé's Mrs. Carter tour. She also appeared in Beyoncé's groundbreaking visual album Lemonade. Raised in Virginia Beach, VA, Riley grew up training at Denise Wall's Dance Energy. Currently, she's on faculty at New York City Dance Alliance, where you can catch her touring the convention circuit. —Courtney Bowers

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New York City Ballet in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (via @nycballet on Twitter)

We all suffer from Nutcracker fatigue sometimes. After a zillion performances, it's hard not to. But there's nothing to restore your little-kid sense of Nutcracker wonder like a look at the sheer scale of a world-class Nut.

New York City Ballet's iconic production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker opens on Friday, and for the past week, the company has been Tweeting out some seriously eye-popping #NutcrackerNumbers. The stats cover everything from the number of jingle bells used on each Candy Cane costume (that'd be 144) to the watts of light used in the show's grand finale (ONE. MILLION. WATTS.).

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Oh hey there, Hallmark Channel! The producer of all those sweet, homey movies best watched in your PJs with your mom has a super dance-y film on its holiday lineup this season: A Nutcracker Christmas. And the casting is—to use a very Hallmark-y pun—perfectly on pointe.

A Nutcracker Christmas tells the story of a talented professional dancer, Lilly, whose supportive sister dies just as Lilly is about to perform the role of Clara in The Nutcracker with New York City Ballet. (Nit-picky fact-checking: In New York City Ballet's Nutcracker, she's known as Marie and danced by a child, but OK.) Lilly's boyfriend and dance partner, Mark, keeps her from performing in the show, which makes Lilly declare she'll never dance again. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Lilly's niece, Sadie, is about to dance Clara in a different company's Nutcracker—a company run by, of all people, Mark. And tons of drama ensues.

Yes, it's a whole lot of plot to wrap your head around. But the real story here is that Sadie is played by none other than the phenomenal Sophia Lucia, and the ever-dashing Sascha Radetsky is also involved in the project. (Radetsky's exact role is unclear from the press material, but he seems like a pretty natural fit for Mark, no?) The odds seem good that we'll get the gift of some very high-quality dancing. Merry Christmas to us!

Sophia Lucia showing off those banana feet (via @sophialucia5678)

You can catch A Nutcracker Christmas on December 10 at 8 pm. Get your slippers and hot cocoa ready.

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