Capezio Athletes Share Their Favorite Holiday Memories

  • December 21, 2016
  • by Chelsea Thomas

It’s that time of the year again! Christmas trees are being decorated with ornaments, tinsel, ribbons and beads. Wreaths are being hung on front doors, fresh poinsettias and garlands are filling rooms, and holiday linens are dressing tables. Sparkling lights are being strung up over homes and businesses while lawn figurines are coming out of hiding to once again shine bright.

As we enter the holiday season, eight Capezio Athletes share where you can see them perform this December and what their favorite holiday memory is and why.

Lauren Fadeley, soloist with Miami City Ballet

What is one of your favorite holiday memories? 

“One of my favorite holiday memories was going to see the living nativity with my family at the church down the street from us, growing up in Florida. I always loved the live animals they used, and the girls dressed up as angels would hold their arms in fifth position for so long! I was always amazed they could stay that still when I was a young girl. That was before I knew what it was like to stand on the side in the corps!”

Where will you be performing this holiday season?

“This season, I will be dancing in The Nutcracker with the Miami City Ballet throughout December and also guesting as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Alaska in Jueanu Dance Theater’s production.”

Adrienne Canterna dances in The Nutcracker

Adrienne Canterna, founder of SweetBird Productions

What is one of your favorite holiday memories? 

“My favorite holiday memory is being in The Nutcracker of course! I’ll never forget when I danced the role of Clara in The Maryland Ballet’s production directed by Phillip Carman. Our Sugar Plum Fairy was one of my biggest inspirations – Julie Kent! It was surreal. Now I get to watch my daughter in The Nutcracker, choreographed by my sister and costumed by my mom! It’s truly a family affair.”

Where will you be performing this holiday season?

“My show ROCK the Ballet will begin its ninth year of touring in Europe, opening in Hamburg, Germany, on December 20 running until February 5. For a full tour schedule, visit”

Michele Wiles, artistic director of BalletNext

What is one of your favorite holiday memories?

“My favorite holiday memory was when Santa brought the family puppy on Christmas Eve. I was six years old and speechless when this adorable six-month-old puppy named Cindy came into my life. That evening, Cindy had to sleep in the kitchen – you better believe I wasn’t going to let her be alone. So I got my sleeping bag out and slept on the kitchen floor with her. Didn’t sleep very much that night!

Cindy was an amazing animal that saw me through a lot – mainly my entire ballet career. From the local jazz studio to the Vaganova school in D.C., all the way to NYC – she saw it all! A holiday memory that will last a lifetime, and one that I can’t wait to share with my little girl.”

Where will you be performing this holiday season?

“BalletNext recently had a residency at Kaatsbaan [International Dance Center] in Tivoli, NY, with a studio showing on December 2. During that time, we were creating a new work for APAP, which will have its premiere January 6-8 at Peridance.”

Harrison Lee, award-winning student dancer training in London.

What is one of your favorite holiday memories? 

“For me, I would have to say one of my most favorite and recent memories that I can recall was the feeling of joy to be going home for Christmas last year. Moving to London a few months earlier and being far from home had left me feeling isolated. I will never forget the feeling landing in Australia and coming out of the airport and then to see the faces of my family.

I love Christmas, with all the chaos and craziness that comes with it! Our family typically celebrates in the traditional Australian way – we start with a big breakfast after we have opened our presents. Then, we head outside to the pool and swim and spend the day outdoors soaking up the sun. My sister and I are really good at sneaking around the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve; we are experts at peeling the sticky tape of the presents to take a peek and then wrapping them back up without Mum knowing. To be home with my family at such a special time of the year is very important to me.”

Lauren Fadeley in The Nutcracker

Will you be performing this holiday season?

“I look forward to using the time at home to rest and take a good break before heading back to London. I have a lot to look forward to in the New Year and a busy schedule ahead. It is important to me that I use my time wisely and rest up as much as I can. I plan to spend as much time as possible swimming and soaking up the Aussie sun.”

Brittany DeGrofft, corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre

What is one of your favorite holiday memories? 

“Christmas is without a doubt my favorite holiday, and I feel so lucky to be able to spend this special time of year with my family. With ABT moving our production of The Nutcracker to California, it makes it super convenient for me to catch a quick plane ride to my hometown in Tucson, Arizona, to spend the holiday with my loved ones.

One [memory] that definitely sticks out for me is going with my Mom and Dad to pick out our Christmas tree. This has always been one of my favorite parts of Christmas! After we find the perfect tree, my dad and I put up a pretty impressive amount of Christmas lights every year, without fail, no matter how late I get home. Our neighbors have come to expect it! We usually finish off the night decorating our tree, my Mom makes some of her ‘secret recipe’ hot chocolate, and we watch the movie A Christmas Story. This has been our tradition every year since I was little! I look forward to this time with my family every year. After a long run of Nutcracker, it’s great to come home, put up your sore feet and enjoy these special moments!”

DJ Smart, freelance dancer and teacher with Artists Simply Human

What is one of your favorite holiday memories? 

“It was a cold winter in Detroit, and I was about seven or eight years old when I wrote a ridiculously long Christmas list to Santa. There were multiple things on there like a lava lamp, bathrobe, gumball machine, bracelet, Red Wings snowsuit, the black Power Ranger suit, a Talkboy (like in the movie Home Alone) and, most importantly, a 72-piece art set. At the time, my grandpa was an architect, and I loved his work. He painted landscapes, houses and people, including my late grandmother. In fact, I knew at that moment I wanted to be an artist and just needed the right tools. I loved to draw and color people, landscapes and anything else that came to mind.

After spending Christmas at his house, my family and I woke up to open our presents together. To my surprise, Santa got me everything I asked for…including that art set. It contained markers, crayons, oil pastels, color pencils, paint and brushes, sharpeners – everything! I was never happier in my life. I still remember grinning and jumping with excitement and turning to my grandpa and parents to show them what Santa got me. They just stood there smiling, so fulfilled from my excitement.

My family has always embraced my unusual creative desires. Sometimes they probably were not even aware that they were doing it. I often wonder where I would be and what I would be doing if I never had that art set, the support of my family…and Santa, of course.”

Where will you be performing and teaching this holiday season?

“This holiday season, I will be teaching at AMDA College in Hollywood and Millennium Dance Complex. I will also be performing an America’s Got Talent show in Dubai with Freelusion and guest performing with both Eleone Dance Theatre and TOKYO the Company.”

Tiffany Hedman, first artist with English National Ballet

What is one of your favorite holiday memories? 

“I was seven when my older sister was in her first Nutcracker. I watched and learned every part that I saw. This Nutcracker had Mother Ginger and her bon-bons under her skirt. One bon-bon got sick a couple of days before the opening, and the artistic director asked me if I knew it enough to do it! Sure I did! Opening night on stage, the bobby pins of my bon-bon hat got stuck in Mother Ginger’s netting underneath the skirt. I tried and tried to get free and finally just ripped through the netting to make my ‘grand’ entrance on stage. And that’s where the Nutcracker love began!”

Where will you be performing this holiday season?

“Currently, English National Ballet is performing Nutcracker through January 7, 2017, on tour and in London.”

Daphne Lee, dancer with Collage Dance Collective

What is one of your favorite holiday memories? 

“My favorite holiday memory had to be Christmas break last year. I always make biscuits from scratch, and it was the first time I enjoyed Christmas with my Scottish Terrier Lennox. I never had a dog before, but he was such a ball of fun. I got him a gift of dog toys, and he went berserk. It’s funny because my dad always plays 1950s Christmas music, but as we all huddle in the kitchen, I simply get the feeling of joy and happiness. Being with my family is so important to me, and I plan to make even more memories this year.”

Where will you be performing this holiday season?

“I will be performing in The Nutcracker with the Flint Youth Ballet this season, playing the role of Clara. What’s even more exciting is that I am the reigning Miss Black New Jersey, and Miss Black Michigan will be attending the performance.”

Alison Stroming, dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem 

What is one of your favorite holiday memories? 

“One of my favorite holiday memories was spending Christmas in NYC after my first year of performing in The Nutcracker with New York City Ballet. I was nine years old, and my whole family came into the city to see me perform and spend the holidays together. Even though I was only an Angel and a Soldier, it was amazing to have my whole family in the audience. Going to see The Nutcracker then became a family tradition every year.

After the performance, we spent a few days in the city sightseeing, ice-skating and enjoying Christmas. The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year, especially in New York!”

Where will you be performing this holiday season?

“This year, I will be performing as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Eglevsky Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker in Long Island, New York. Performance dates are December 17 and 18.”

Article produced by Dance Informa.

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