November 2018 Writer / Janelle Morrison Photography / Courtesy of IBC The season of holiday splendor is nearly upon us, and many have already begun planning for their annual holiday traditions with family and friends. This is the beginning of what will hopefully be a new long-standing tradition for fans of the Indiana Ballet Conservatory (IBC) as well as patrons of the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) and Newfields Gardens – a brand new experience combining Indiana’s premier “Nutcracker” tradition at the Tobias Theater at the IMA with the return of “Winterlights” at Newfields. In collaboration with Newfields, IBC is offering “Winterlights” packages with its 7 p.m. shows running December 13-16. Patrons can enjoy a magical stroll through the gardens that will be illuminated with even more lights than last year’s exhibition – approximately 1.5 million lights. People can enjoy warming stations, warm drinks, s’mores and photo opportunities before entering the Tobias Theater for a breathtaking performance of some of Tchaikovsky’s most celebrated compositions. While honoring many of the traditions of the original “The Nutcracker” ballet founded in Russia more than 100 years ago, IBC Founding Artistic Director Alyona Yakovleva-Randall has based this production on the 1934 choreography of Vasily Vainonen. Much like Tchaikovsky, Yakovleva-Randall is a visionary in her own right. She marries tradition with modern innovation, so her students can build from a strong foundation while remaining relevant in a modern world. “We are honoring tradition while inspiring innovation,” Yakovleva-Randall stated. “I feel that it is important to keep the traditions. Tradition is needed in the modern world and in the future.” In keeping with tradition, IBC is proud to welcome back its guest dancer Lasha Khozashvili, the acclaimed principal dancer from the Boston Ballet. The company is excited to be celebrating its eighth season with Khozashvili performing in IBC’s homage to the artistry of Vainonen. Khozashvili has been described by The Los Angeles Times as “gorgeous” with “youth, charm and spontaneity gilding the choreography and making it seem inspired improvisation.” He will be returning to IBC, dancing the role of the “Prince” alongside IBC’s Professional Training Program (PTP) students. Performing the role of the coveted “Sugar Plum Fairy” will be two IBC dancers, both of which are in the school’s Advanced Pre-Professional Day Program. Katerina Zakanova (16) and Piers Giffin (16) hold this distinguished honor this year. Many of IBC’s alumni have gone onto the Boston Ballet, Washington Ballet, English National Ballet, Orlando Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. Several IBC students have won numerous awards at competitions throughout the years. Many of the young dancers left their home states to move to Carmel to train with IBC. “The PTP program, where they come here to study and live, is the largest it’s been since we started it,” said Jenny Okamoto, executive director at IBC. “The majority of students have moved here to train with us. Where we used to have a few , two-thirds are coming here just to train with IBC.” In addition to IBC’s international reputation for its professional training and excellence, IBC is also recognized for its genuine culture of giving back to local youth and other organizations throughout Central Indiana through its outreach programs and fundraising efforts. Some of these organizations include Riley Hospital for Children, Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, Make-A-Wish and The Humane Society of Indianapolis. “I always tell them that you cannot lie to the audience,” Yakovleva-Randall emphasized. “If you want to be a professional dancer, you must first be a good person. You have to be nice to each other. I think the best way to install a sense of humanity in children and teenagers is by them giving back by doing what they love – dancing. It is a powerful way to give back.” Enjoy the wonderment of this holiday season while creating lasting memories this year with IBC’s “The Nutcracker” and “Winterlights” at Newfields with family and friends. For information on the performance dates and to purchase tickets and packages, visit indianaballetconservatory.org.