The Huntington Beach Seniors Center in Central Park turned into the Land of Sweets on Saturday as Ballet Etudes, a non-profit organization that organizes dance productions for local youth, hosted a fifth annual celebration of the Sugar Plum Fairy tea.
Around 200 aspiring princesses, mothers, grandmothers and aunts enjoyed an afternoon snatched straight from the pages of the 1816 fairy tale that has become a classic holiday ballet “The Nutcracker” at the event, organized by the non-profit association Ballet Etudes.
In addition to striking poses with a full cast of characters and watching the Sugar Plum fairy spin, the kids enjoyed face painting, games and story time thanks to “Nana Jana” (dance teacher Jana Acciacca) who reads the storybook every year.
The tables were beautifully decorated with themes – peppermint, snowflakes, and sugar plums – not only to host the signature refreshments, but as part of a decorating competition.
“Some of the moms are signing up to greet and decorate a table,” said Kimberly McEachern, Executive Director of Ballet Etudes. “They are very interested in the competition and decorate the tables in a very elaborate way, it is very festive.
The event marks the kick-off of the popular winter production of “The Nutcracker”, one of the three major productions performed entirely by young people aged 5 to 19 and organized by Ballet Etudes.
This is also a fundraiser for the organization, which operates as a non-profit youth ballet company as part of the Huntington Academy of Dance and as such provides dance lessons. free and productions for schools in the Title 1 zone throughout the year.
McEachern said many children who participate in school programs are invited to the annual “The Nutcracker” show for free, so they can share in the joy and magic of dancing.
“We love exposing children to the arts to develop their own creativity, develop future patrons and enrich their lives,” she added.
Now celebrating its 35th anniversary, Ballet Études often sees its students participating in college dance programs, trainings and professional dance schools. McEachern said the founders of the organization viewed ballet studies as a way to raise funds so that the productions could be enjoyed by a wider audience.
“We get grants every year so that we can continue to do this work,” she said.
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