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Dec. 9, 2011/FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        
Media Contact: Ann Urban, Capture Public Relations & Marketing

336-722-9660, ann@capturevalue.com                    


Ana Sophia Scheller Withdraws Due to Family Illness

WINSTON-SALEM – Guest artist Julie Kent — a prima ballerina whose career with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) has spanned 25 years and dozens of principal roles — will dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy at the Saturday, December 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 11 at 2 p.m. performances of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ (UNCSA) The Nutcracker.  Kent is replacing Ana Sophia Scheller, who had to withdraw from the role due to a family illness.

Kent (Principal, ABT) will be joined in the performances by guest artist Gonzalo Garcia (Principal, New York City Ballet), who has performed with Kent previously and will dance as her Cavalier Prince.  UNCSA’s The Nutcracker runs Dec. 10-18 at the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem.

Thanks to its unique partnership with ABT, UNC School of the Arts Chancellor John Mauceri was able to personally call the Company to seek out — and find — a replacement within hours of Scheller’s withdrawal. And not just any replacement — Kent is widely recognized as one of the world’s most accomplished and famous dancers.

UNCSA Executive Producer Katharine Laidlaw explained, “ABT is in residence in Washington, DC, so very few of its dancers were available. Amazingly, Julie Kent was in New York City and was interested in coming to UNCSA to star in our Nutcracker and to work with the students.

“For many, Julie Kent is the most beloved ballerina of her generation,” Laidlaw added.  “Similarly, Gonzalo Garcia is widely regarded as a rising star and one of today’s finest young dancers. The pairing of Julie and Gonzalo is an extraordinary event for Winston-Salem, and, more importantly, UNCSA students will remember this experience and draw from it for years to come.”

The New York Times once wrote of her, “Ms. Kent has become the Marie Taglioni of the 1990’s, but with spunk, a dancer whose poetic lyricism calls to mind descriptions of that great 19th-century ballerina.”

Julie Kent

“We would not have one of the world’s prima ballerinas dancing in our Nutcracker if not for this extraordinary partnership with ABT,” Chancellor Mauceri said. “It is a true testament to the importance of this historic and transformative collaboration.”

This summer, ABT and UNCSA announced plans for a five-year partnership, starting fall 2011, which will implement ABT’s National Training Curriculum throughout the UNCSA School of Dance preparatory, high school and collegiate divisions and make UNCSA’s campus a second home for ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School by becoming an exclusive affiliate school. For more information, see: http://www.uncsa.edu/pressreleases/Releases2011/Jun11/ABT.htm.

Sponsorship of guest artists of The Nutcracker has been provided by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Thomas S. Kenan III, Wells Fargo, Alex C. Ewing, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Henderson, and an anonymous donor.


Julie Kent began her dance training with Hortensia Fonseca at the Academy of the Maryland Youth Ballet. She attended the American Ballet Theatre II Summer session and the School of American Ballet before joining ABT as an apprentice in 1985. In that same year, Kent won first place in the regional finals of the National Society of Arts and Letters at the Kennedy Center. In 1986, she was the only American to win a medal at the Prix de Lausanne International Ballet Competition, and she became a member of ABT’s corps de ballet. Kent starred in the Herbert Ross film Dancers in 1987. She was appointed a Soloist with ABT in 1990 and a Principal Dancer in 1993, the year in which she won the Erik Bruhn Prize in Toronto.

Kent’s roles with the Company include the Girl in Afternoon of a Faun, the title role in Anastasia, Terpsichore and Calliope in Apollo, Nikiya in La Bayadère, Zina in The Bright Stream, the third movement in Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, the title role in Cinderella, Medora in Le Corsaire, the Lady with Him in Dim Lustre, Kitri and the Queen of the Driads in Don Quixote, Titania in The Dream, The Dying Swan, Anne in Christopher Wheeldon’s VIII, the Accused in Fall River Legend, the second girl in Fancy Free, the Glove Seller in Gaîté Parisienne, Giselle in Giselle, Caroline in Jardin aux Lilas, Marguerite in Lady of the Camellias, Manon in Manon, Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow, the Sugar Plum Fairy in Kevin McKenzie’s The Nutcracker, Tatiana in Onegin, Desdemona in Othello, the pas de deux Other Dances, the pas de deux in Les Patineurs, Hagar in Pillar of Fire, the Siren in Prodigal Son, the Ranch Owner’s Daughter in Rodeo, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, a Lover in Sin and Tonic, Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, the Sylph in La Sylphide, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, the second movement in Symphony in C, the Nocturne and the Prelude in Les Sylphides, Sylvia in Sylvia, Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew, the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, the Woman in Weren’t We Fools? and leading roles in Ballet Imperial, Dark Elegies, Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes, Duets, The Garden of Villandry, Gong, Kaleidoscope, The Leaves Are Fading, Meadow, Mozartiana, Overgrown Path, Sinfonietta, “…smile with my heart," Spring and Fall, Stepping Stones, Symphonie Concertante and Theme and Variations.

She created Artemis in Artemis, Sibyl Vane in Dorian, His Memory and His Experiences in HereAfter and leading roles in Americans We, Baroque Game, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, C. to C. (Close to Chuck), Clear, Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, Cruel World, Getting Closer, Glow - Stop, Known by Heart, Rigaudon, Seven Sonatas, States of Grace, Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison and Without Words.

In April 2000, Kent won the “Prix Benois de la Danse,” which was held in Stuttgart. She is the only American ever to have won this prize. Kent starred in the motion picture Center Stage (2000), directed by Nicholas Hytner with original choreography by Susan Stroman.

Kent is married to UNCSA dance alumnus Victor Barbee, who serves as ABT’s Associate Artistic Director.


Gonzalo Garcia is a Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet (NYCB).  Born in Zaragoza, Spain, Garcia began studying ballet at the age of eight at Maria Avila’s school. In 1995, he attended the summer session at San Francisco Ballet School.  Following this session, Garcia participated in the Prix de Lausanne, becoming the youngest dancer to receive a gold medal.  He then returned to the School to resume his studies and was selected by Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet, to perform in a world premiere ballet created especially for the 1996 Spring Student Showcase. Garcia joined San Francisco Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in March 1998. In 2000, he was promoted to Soloist, and in 2002 to Principal Dancer.  Garcia was invited to perform Balanchine’s Ballo della Regina with NYCB as part of the Company’s Balanchine Centennial Celebration in 2004.  Garcia joined NYCB in October of 2007 as a Principal Dancer.


Douglas Gawriljuk, a faculty member of the UNCSA School of Dance, will supervise the 2011 production of The Nutcracker.  Gawriljuk will be assisted by his colleagues Warren Conover, Dayna Fox and Susan McCullough of the UNCSA School of Dance.  The immensely popular Tchaikovsky Nutcracker ballet music will be performed by the UNCSA Nutcracker Orchestra under the musical direction of special guest conductor Charles Barker, who is the Principal Conductor for the renowned ABT.  Three members of the UNCSA School of Dance faculty — Nigel Burley, Warren Conover and Susan McCullough — worked with former School of Dance Dean Ethan Stiefel on the new choreography for The Nutcracker. Lighting for The Nutcracker is by ABT Resident Lighting Designer and UNCSA School of Design & Production alumnus Brad Fields, and set pieces were designed by UNCSA Design & Production faculty member Howard Jones.  New costumes were designed by Kathryn E. Grillo and Carolyn Fay, staff at the UNCSA Dance Costume Shop.

The full performance schedule for the UNCSA production of The Nutcracker is: Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 11 at 2 p.m.; Dec. 15 and Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Ticket prices are: Prime Orchestra, $66; Orchestra Center, $50 for adults and $35 for children 13 and under; Orchestra Sides and Front Balcony, $45 for adults and $30 for children 13 and under; Center Balcony, $33 for adults and $24 for children 13 and under; Rear Balcony, $25 for adults and $20 for children 13 and under.  For the best deal in town take advantage of the great prices on The Nutcracker “Family Four Pack” for the evening performances on Thursday, Dec. 15, Friday, Dec. 16 and Sunday, Dec. 18: $130 for Orchestra Side/Front Balcony and $95 for Center Balcony.


The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established as the North Carolina School of the Arts by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, UNCSA opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from high school through graduate school train for careers in the arts in five professional schools: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA is the state’s only public arts conservatory, dedicated entirely to the professional training of talented students in the performing, visual and moving image arts. UNCSA is located at 1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.

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