Pa. Ballet Gives Free Dress-Rehearsal Peek at ‘Nutcracker’ to 1,200 Philadelphia Students

Pa. Ballet Gives Free Dress-Rehearsal Peek at ‘Nutcracker’ to 1,200 Philadelphia Students

By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Pennsylvania Ballet today opened the doors to its dress rehearsal for “The Nutcracker,” at the Academy of Music, to more than 1,200 Philadelphia public school students.

Each year, the Pennsylvania Ballet gives students from kindergarten through eighth grade — many of whom come from low income communities — a chance to witness the wonders of the stage and this holiday classic.

Denise Strongim, a fifth-grade teacher at Conwell Middle Magnet School, in Kensington, has been bringing her students to the free event for years. She says it can be a life-changing experience.

“(Some) kids have decided to go to the Creative and Performing Arts High School, or to take dance classes elsewhere. I’ve seen students’ behavior improve, and their attendance.”

Also in the audience today were students from the School of the Pennsylvania Ballet.  Ten-year-old Cordy Pride (foreground in photo below) was a spectator today but will be dancing on stage with the corps de ballet come Sunday.

(Cordy Pride, kneeling, and fellow ballet student Marcella Piccirillo.  Photo by Paul Kurtz)

(Cordy Pride, kneeling, and fellow ballet student Marcella Piccirillo. Photo by Paul Kurtz)

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“I have been waiting for this for a long time, and I’m really excited,” she said this afternoon.