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by Meghann Maurer
The Colorado Springs Philharmonic Blog
November 12, 2012

Colton West, 15, will dance the role of the Nutcracker Prince 2012Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker has never ceased to be a most celebrated holiday tradition. For many of us, the fantastic story of Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and the Nutcracker Prince is familiar, however, this Thanksgiving weekend will see the exciting rise of a new star from the Pikes Peak region.

In the past, the San Diego Ballet and Ballet Idaho companies have produced members from their own corps to dance the coveted role of the Nutcracker Prince in collaboration with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. This year, however, Colton West, a 15-year-old sophomore at Lewis Palmer High School in Monument, Colorado captured the attention of Ballet Idaho’s balletmaster, Alex Ossadnik, and won the part.

During The Nutcracker auditions back in August, West and his mother, Holly, did not know what kind of role he might get. West recalls, “I haven’t done The Nutcracker in a few years so I was like, I’m going to go for it … this will be fun!”

“A lady walked out to me and said, ‘You didn’t tell us he could dance!’” Holly West remembered.

West began his dancing career in 2007 after moving with his parents and six siblings to Monument, Colorado from northern Virginia.“Both my older sisters were dancers and I was pretty into baseball and football when I was a kid but I was never very good at them, so I figured I’d try something different, something new, so I got into dancing when I was in the second grade at a small studio in a shopping center and I just loved it. I loved it so much. It’s been my passion.”

Colton West, Junior Denver YAGP 2009 (VAM)West has trained at Peak Ballet Theatre and Zamuel Ballet in Colorado Springs as well as the National Ballet Academy of Denver. A participant of the prestigious Youth American Grand Prix, West earned a third place spot, in addition to other accolades, for a contemporary piece he recalls as “One of my proudest moments.” For the past three summers, West has received scholarships to train with the Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Ballet Austin. He currently trains at A Time to Dance Studio in Monument.

So what kind of time commitment does it take to earn the solo role of the Nutcracker Prince at such a young age? “Usually I take [dance] class 5 or 6 times a week and then I have rehearsal on the weekends,” he says. In addition to dancing two hours every day after school, for the past 6-7 weeks he has added 30 hours of training per week for Nutcracker alone. “Saturdays and Sundays are pretty long days,” he adds nonchalantly.

It’s notable that West is a fulltime student in addition to dancing as many hours as some work for their fulltime jobs. “It can be a challenge sometimes,” he says, “But [I] just have to do [my] homework and get good grades so I can dance, and so my mom isn’t nagging me all the time. It isn’t too hard. It gets hard around finals time and then at the end of the year, but really it’s not that bad.”

When West is not excelling at dancing or schoolwork, he adds musical theatre to his impressive resume, saying, “It was a sort of social thing because I came from a different middle school than most the other kids in my town and I figured it would be a good safe environment to make new friends.” He will be performing with Lewis Palmer High School Theatre in their production of Legally Blonde the Musical!, November 15-18.

Although only a sophomore, West is committed to pursuing a professional career. He is currently in the midst of the application process for New York City’s private conservatory, The Julliard School. He hopes to one day join a renowned ballet company and win more solo roles in contemporary and classical ballets, drawing inspiration from YouTube videos of professional dancers like Ivan Vasiliev and members of the American Ballet Theatre. “Romeo and Juliet would probably be one of my dream shows to be in!” he says.

It’s clear that whatever he does and wherever he goes, dancing will undoubtedly follow. “It’s a lifetime thing; you just have to be passionate about it. It’s what I love to do and I hope to keep doing it for a long time.”

West will debut in his first professional role with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Ballet Idaho, and the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale at the Pikes Peak Center, November 23-25.

Copyright 2012 Colorado Springs Philharmonic

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