Culver City student dances Clara role In Westside Ballet's "The Nutcracker."

Serena Klipfel and Culver City students perform at the Broad Stage after two long years

Westside Ballet's presentation of The Nutcracker has been a beloved Los Angeles classic since 1973, providing the perfect opportunity to introduce children to classical music and dance, and in so doing, showcasing the value of the performance arts––a point considered more poignant than ever after the collective nearly two-year drought of live entertainment and arts events throughout the pandemic. The whole family can expect to be entranced once more by the production's lavish scenes and costumes, involving world-class professional dancers performing alongside pre-professional and student performers.

Culver City resident Serena Klipfel (13) stars in the coveted role of Clara, while also performing in the Peppermint Candy and Russian dances.

"I am so excited to be dancing in person again, especially performing," says Klipfel. "Dancing at home was a big challenge that really has now made me grateful for the studio and in-person classes. I am so incredibly happy and grateful to be playing Clara this year. The role is certainly a challenge when it comes to acting and concentration, but I feel like I am ready and prepared for it."

The 2021 production, which opens Nov. 27 and will have a two-weekend run, includes six other young dancers who reside or go to school in Culver City. Elisa Suffriti Cefola (13) of Culver City Middle School will perform in the Russian dance. Evelyn Chung (10) shall perform as an Angel and Red Soldier. She is in fifth grade at Braddock Gifted Elementary School. Isla Segar (10) of Linwood E. Howe School dances the Snow Fairy and Blue Soldier. Performing as a Blue Soldier, Linka Rose Tiesiera (10) attends El Marino Language School Japanese Immersion Program. Clara's entertainingly naughty brother is performed by Heath Olvera (9), a forth grader at Ocean Charter School.

The students will share the stage with the cast of 67 pre-professional student dancers, as well as several

professional dancers such as Principal Guest Artist Chasen Greenwood, who is accompanying the Sugar Plum Fairy (Santa Monica native Daniella Zhou in her professional debut) as her Cavalier. Greenwood was featured in Dancer Magazine as "one to watch" after completing a nationwide tour as a soloist with State Street Ballet.

"Words cannot describe how thrilled we are to FINALLY return to The Broad Stage, which has been our home stage since 2013. There is truly nothing like sharing the exquisite artistry of our production and talent of our dancers with the greater Santa Monica community," shares Martine Harley, Westside Ballet of Santa Monica's Artistic Director. "Westside's Nutcracker has withstood the test of time, remaining a coveted tradition for our community and dancers for nearly five decades. We know audiences are eager to once more experience the ballet they've loved for so long––especially after our 2020 hiatus from the stage which had us creating an innovative black box theater in our studio in order to perform an abbreviated and virtual performance for families."

Allegra Clegg, Westside School of Ballet's studio owner and daughter of co-founder Yvonne Mounsey explains the effects of the past two years on the company: "To be sure, the epidemic has disrupted the way the performing arts field has thought about dance. Like other nonprofit performing arts organizations, Westside Ballet had to embrace the concept of producing dance digitally to keep ballet alive in our community and to share with those who enjoy and support the art form. We have been so grateful to all the individual and foundational donors that were able to come forward in unprecedented ways to support our dance company and increase their giving through our Crisis Relief Campaign. We have survived –– now it's time to thrive!"

"This year, to encourage continued support and to celebrate our return to The Broad Stage, on Giving Tuesday, November 30th, the performance company will release rehearsal footage previews on our social media channels," says Clegg.

Covid vaccine and testing guidelines shall be enforced for both dancers and audiences, following both Los Angeles County and Santa Monica College's health and Covid protocols. Dancers and audience members above age 12 will be required to show vaccination certificates. Those below the age of 12 or with medical exceptions, will be required to show a negative PCR test. Masks will be required for all audience members and unvaccinated dancers.

"The Nutcracker" will be performed at The Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Show dates and times are Saturday, Nov. 27 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m .; Sunday, Nov. 28 at 1 p.m .; Saturday, Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m .; and Sunday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. All tickets are $50. Tickets may be purchased online at or by phone (additional fees apply) at (800) 595 – 4849 (4TIX).

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