St. Louis Ballet performs for full house at Doudna


Mercury Bowen

Members of the St. Louis Ballet Company perform in the Theatre at the Doudna Fine Arts Center Saturday eventing. “The confetti, I was not expecting that,” Usher Amanda Kiessling said. “Then when they put the lights back and it was still coming down when the bowed I was like ‘That’s so pretty.’”

Mercury Bowen, Entertainment Reporter

Sounds of ballet shoes dancing on the stage carried through the silence of the Theatre as the St. Louis Ballet performed to a full house Saturday evening at the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Prior to intermission, the ballet company performed “Moonlight & Sonatas,” “Pandora’s Box” and “Regen.”

The second portion of the ballet company’s performance consisted of “Divertissements from the Nutcracker,” in which the dancers performed to selections from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”

Confetti showered the dancers in the final moments of the performance, sparking a standing ovation in the audience.

Dancer Rebecca Cornett said the mental and emotional experience of a dancer during a performance is one unique to that individual.

“For me myself, it’s a way that I can express myself the best,” Cornett said. “I’ve always felt that way on stage. There’s something about the lights with the music and the movement that just really gets to me, and it’s one of those surreal experiences that I know I will never get in any other thing that I do going forward.”

Cornett said it is the challenge of ballet that draws her to it.

“There’s so many things you can think about,” Cornett said. “I could do a certain step a hundred times and I could still think of a couple hundred more ways to think about that one step. It’s a way to be creative, and it’s also a way to execute precision.”

CiCi Houston Sudholt, the company’s Ballet Mistress, said her role is to take other people’s choreography and prepare it for the stage.

“Even with the traditional ballets, every company will re-stage the traditions differently,” Houston Sudholt said. “There is a lot of our Nutcracker, for instance, that is inspired by the original production, but it’s always my job to adjust to what a current choreographer wants in this current year. Even within our own production, it might change every single year a little bit.”

In revealing her proudest moments from the performance, Houston Sudholt said she felt like she has become a proud big sister to the dancers.

“In some of these works, a couple of dancers had to unexpectedly go in,” Houston Sudholt said. “The first ballet in particular has so many details it can fry your brain, and I was just so proud of the way that our dancers always rally. They help each other, and hopefully the audience can’t tell who did the ballet before and who was brand new to the cast.”

The ballet captured the attention of 9-year-old Ellie Shaw, who said she “really liked it.”

“The dancers are really talented,” Shaw said. “Their outfits are really nice and pretty.”

Amanda Kiessling, a junior foreign languages major and an usher at the Doudna, said she thought the performance was “spectacular.”“I think it was one of the best (performances) I’ve ever seen at Doudna,” Kiessling said. “That’s from my past two years I’ve worked here.”

Malia Smith, a dance coach at Mattoon High School in Mattoon, Ill. and dance instructor at Margene’s Dance Studio, said she thought the performance was wonderful.

“I always like the Nutcracker variations,” Smith said. “Anything with Tchaikovsky and at the holiday season.”

Smith said it was her role as dance teacher that brought her to the performance.

“Anytime (my dance team and I) get a chance to see dance we leap at it,” Smith said. “No pun intended.”

Having seen the performance, Smith said she felt there were things she could take away from the performance to help with her own teaching.

“(I was influenced by) the ensemble work (the dancers) were able to do,” Smith said. “The way they were able to stay in unison and to keep the integrity of the character that they were portraying, especially in the modern pieces at the beginning because they weren’t a designated character that everyone knows. They had to interpret the music and make it a way that people who weren’t trained in dance could understand it.”

Valerie Miller, the managing director for the ballet company, said it is her job to help with the fundraising for the company.

“I have a great appreciation for ballet,” Miller said. “It makes me happy to support the arts in general, but ballet in particular I love so I’m happy to do whatever I can to help this company grow.”

Miller said her appreciation for ballet stemmed from her youth.

“I studied as a child,” Miller said. “I developed a real appreciation for the art form.”

Mercury Bowen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].