The Los Angeles Youth Ballet Welcomes Two African-American Stars To Perform ‘The Nutcracker’

(Brooklyn Mack Instagram)

Have you ever seen a performance of The Nutcracker  ballet? If not, if you live in, or will be in Southern California, here is your opportunity and if you have, here is an opportunity to see it again, with extra special guest dancers.

The December 21-23 performances at Glendale’s Alex Theatre, of the LA Youth Ballet’s critically acclaimed production of The Nutcracker will include African-American ballet dancers Ashley Murphy and Brooklyn Mack, dancing the show-stopping roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and Sugar Plum Fairy’s Consort, respectively.

LA Youth Ballet, the premier ensemble of the Los Angeles Ballet Academy, is an advanced pre-professional student ensemble for accomplished classical dancers ages 13-19 that provides comprehensive ballet training combined with professional-caliber performance opportunities.

Ashley Murphy, a Shreveport, Louisiana native, is in her fourth season with The Washington Ballet.  In 2002, she trained and performed with Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH’s) Dancing Through Barriers Ensemble. The following year, she was accepted into the actual DTH company and was with them for 13 years.

During that time, the DTH went on an eight-year hiatus. During the hiatus, she was influential in helping to restore the company’s rich legacy by performing in the DTH Ensemble.

Murphy has also taught for DTH’s Pre-Professional Residency at the Kennedy Center. She performed for President Obama at The White House, on BET and on the game show Jeopardy. 

She has also represented the U.S. in a cultural exchange program in Jamaica, appeared on the cover of Pointe Magazine with other African-American ballet standouts Misty Copeland and Ebony Williams and appeared in a Verizon commercial.

Ashley told Dance Magazine that she decided to leave DTH because, “I wasn’t really growing anymore—they didn’t need to pay attention to me because they knew I would work on things on my own. I felt like I’d become everybody’s mom.  I need to be in a setting where I’m more equal with other people.”

Brooklyn Mack, an Elgin, South Carolina native, is an international principal guest dancer, who previously spent three seasons as a principal dancer with Orlando Ballet and up until this past August, had spent nine seasons as principal dancer of The Washington Ballet (TWB).

Mack’s pursuit of ballet was a little unorthodox. He wanted to take up football and saw a documentary where some football players took ballet to improve agility, balance and speed.

At age 12, he made a deal with his mother that if she would take him to football tryouts, he would take up ballet. He only intended to do it for a month or two. Two years later, he received a full ballet scholarship and the rest his history.

Mack was an apprentice with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago before joining American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company. Throughout his career, he has performed choreography spanning the classical, neoclassical, contemporary, abstract, and modern styles and has received numerous international awards.

Mack has been featured on ABC, NBC and Ebony Magazine as well as named in 2012 as one of the top “25 dancers to Watch” by Dance Magazine. Mack is highly sought after all over the world and has recently made is first appearance on some of the biggest stages of the world, including the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

Darrion Sellman, 14, is dancing the Nutcracker and Andrea Paris-Gutierrez is the choreographer, president and artistic director of Los Angeles Ballet Academy, which is now in its 26th year.

Tickets start at $25 and are available through Alex Theatre Box Office 818.243.2539 or ONLINE. 

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