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Over the past few years, several Shelby County dancers have earned spots in the holiday performance of Nutcracker in a Nutshell, and this year the county will send its largest contingent ever.
Denise Gillman, the owner and director of Gillman’s Dance Academy, which has studios in Shelbyville and Crestwood, has six dancers that will partake in the show this year. Two dancers from Shelby County participated last year.
Gillman’s studios also participate in MAGIC (Making Art Grow in Children) Dance Company, which is a pre-professional youth dance company that is organizing the Nutcracker performance.
“It’s open to students from all over the Louisville area, and students in Shelby County have shown a lot of improvement,” she said
The dancers – Emily Allen, Lauren Early, Emmy Libke, Marlee Pettit, Katelyn Purnell and Austin Shirley – all dance locally at Gillman’s.
“These are the most serious-minded students who want a taste of what it’s like to be in a professional dance company,” she said.
Evalyn Tirikos, a dance instructor at Gillman’s who works with the Shelby students, said all six are among the most dedicated and talented at the academy.
“Emily [Allen] and Marlee [Pettit] have both been with us for three years, and both are very strong dancers,” she said. “They both have moved up one level in ballet this year, and they are probably two of the most dedicated dancers we have.
“Emmy [Libke] is the youngest of the six dancing in the show, and she’s also been with us for three years. She takes ballet, jazz and has taken tap. She’s a very strong little dancer.
“Lauren [Early] has been taking ballet and tap with us for three years, and she’s done several competitive dance team competitions.
“Austin [Shirley] is in his first year performing with us, but he’s a very accomplished dancer and has been great to work with. He’s taken ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary, and he competed in the Mr. Dance of Kentucky and won it a couple years back.
“Katelyn is in her second year with us, and this is the second year she’s performed in Nutcracker, and she’s very talented.”
Tirikos said this is certainly the largest group from Shelby County that her studio has had in the holiday performance, and it’s no surprise.
“We’ve certainly seen an increase in the number of dancers in Shelby County, but, more importantly, we’ve seen an increase in the determination in our dancers,” she said. “The ballet program has been growing stronger and stronger there.”
The dance academy has been open for three years in Shelbyville and is celebrating its 15th year in Crestwood this year.
Nutcracker in a Nutshell
WHEN: Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., for the public. Performances for school groups are Thursday and Friday.
WHERE: The Louisville Palace