September 19, 2014

Topanga Ballerina Performs in Westside Ballet “Nutcracker”

 

PHOTO BY TODD LECHTICK

Topanga Ballerina Performs in Westside Ballet “Nutcracker”

Chantal Roe of Topanga rehearsing at Westside Ballet studios with Caprice Walker, Associate Artistic Director of Westside Ballet of Santa Monica’s 2012 “Nutcracker.”

Chantal Louisa Roe was practically born dancing. Born and raised in Somerset, England until she moved to the US at age 7. A very kinesthetic child with a natural sense of rhythm, long legs and ‘smart feet,’ Chantal started taking ballet at age 2 in preschool with a wonderful Royal Ballet teacher, whom also taught Chantal at her pre-preparatory school Millfield in Glastonbury from age 4-7.

Chantal started at Westside School of Ballet at Level I and is now at Level Va. Chantal and her mother Jewels Solheim-Roe moved to Topanga in 2010 where Chantal attended Topanga Charter Elementary for two years — with her 5th grade Culmination in June 2012.

In fourth grade, Chantal was a blue soldier in Westside Ballet of Santa Monica’s “The Nutcracker.” In 2011, she was an Angel, Party Boy, and Mouse.

This year Chantal is an Angel again, leading the background line carrying a trumpet, and returns to the splendidly choreographed Party Scene as a Victorian ‘Party Girl.’ She also returns to the Battle Scene, but this time as the Lead Red Soldier ‘General’ who gets dramatically killed by the mice and dragged off the stage in style.

For the past two summers Chantal attended Westside’s Summer Ballet Intensive Camp for 5 to 6 weeks. Jewels feels Chantal improves immensely each summer. Jewels says that Westside Ballet is like a modern day charm school which teaches children: good manners, etiquette, a sense of decorum, teamwork and a respect for elders. The little girls all look up to the older girls now on pre-pointe or on point, and the sense of comraderie amongst their peer groups really instills a sense of discipline, drive and purpose in their shared approach and respect to the dance.

This year will be a bittersweet performance of the Nutcracker due to their beloved director and founder Yvonne Mounsey’s death on Sept. 29 of this year.

Each year the children work hard for three months preparing for “Nutcracker” and have a wonderful semi-professional performance experience, by performing in eight shows at such impressive venues like 'The Wadsworth Theatre'. Chantal and all her peers really love the entire Nutcracker performance experience, including the back-stage energy in their assigned dressing-rom trailers.

Chantal takes five ballet classes a week, one Jazz Level C and rehearses for the Nutcracker three hours every Saturday. This year at Level Va, Chantal has begun on Pointe for one hour a week. Chantal has always been highly complemented for her beautiful ‘smart’ feet and her high arch. Her teachers at Westside always encourage her to stick with it and it’s a pleasure for all to behold her progress. Jewels anticipates Chantal will be beautiful on pointe due to her long legs and tall, slender frame. Chantal is already over 5’1’’ and only 11.5 years old.

She knows if she sticks with it, she has a good chance for better and better roles in the coming years. She is very excited as her Nana and Great-Aunt are flying in from Portland to see her performances the first weekend in December. She also has many friends in Topanga who are coming to see her.

Chantal currently attends MUSE School in Calabasas’s Middle School pilot programme which is based on passion-based learning, self-efficacy and sustainability. She is loving her special middle school programme!