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By Linda Lamm English
The Virginian-Pilot
December 12, 2014

 

Noah Sych and Jayla Coco will dance the roles of Fritz and Clara in Ballet Virginia International's Nutcracker (Joe Coco) 2014[Hampton Roads, Virginia, USA] – Fierce mice battling gingerbread soldiers? A kingdom ruled by a Sugar Plum Fairy? Dancing dolls? Yes, it’s “The Nutcracker,” the famous ballet set to classical music and performed around the world.

This holiday season, two local classmates will be performing as lead dancers in Ballet Virginia International’s production of the beloved Christmas production. Presented at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach, it will feature Jayla Coco as Clara Stahlbaum and Noah Sych as her brother, Fritz. Both are fifth-graders at E.W. Chittum Elementary School in Western Branch.

Musicians as well as dancers, Jayla plays the violin and Noah plays the viola. They are both on the principal’s list, which is “better than the honor roll.”

According to Lisa McCarty, children’s director for the ballet company, “Dancers learn time management.” They have to. Sessions at the studio average four days a week. Sandwiched in between are school, homework “and, hopefully, a little time to be a kid,” Jayla’s mother, Lydia Coco, said.

She is glad that her daughter loves ballet, but said even if Jayla chooses not to become a professional dancer, ballet is helpful because it instills discipline.

Noah’s parents, Joe and Lisa Sych, make the frequent trips from their Western Branch home to BVI dance studio in Norfolk because their son enjoys it so much.

“He has such a passion for it,” Lisa said.

“And the arts are important,” Joe added.

The children’s fervor for dance may be inherited. Jayla’s two older sisters have also danced the part of Clara. Her mother was once a principal dancer for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Now she teaches ballet and modern dance to BVI students, including her own three “bunhead” daughters. Even Jayla’s father, Joe Coco, will be dancing in the opening scene of the ballet’s Christmas Eve party.

Noah said he has wanted to dance in “The Nutcracker” since his now-college-age sister performed in it as a child with the Moscow Ballet in Virginia Beach. Born into a family of athletes, Noah considers dancing to be athletic. He inherited his grandfather’s musicality, which has helped with both the viola and dance, although he claims to be “not very good at modern.”

In years past, he and Jayla have had lesser “Nutcracker” parts. The ballet company’s artistic directors, Janina Bove and Susan Lownsbury Long, explained that the pair was chosen for more important roles this year because of their dedication to dance and their excellent acting abilities.

Though the talent may be inherent, it requires devotion to be successful. Why do it, when other kids enjoy more free time and less hard work? “It’s the satisfaction of performing for other people, making them happy,” Noah said. “It’s fun,” Jayla said. “I’m always dancing, even at home. It makes me happy.”

[The] two look forward to being in costume, which will make them feel more like their characters. They also are anticipating dancing to the live music of Symphonicity, Virginia Beach’s symphony orchestra, rather than the tapes they use in rehearsal.

There will be a little nervousness before each performance begins, but once they get started, it will go away. Afterward, Jayla said she will feel good “unless I mess up.” Noah said he will just think, “I made it through!”

 

Copyright 2014 The Virginian-Pilot

 

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One Comment

    • sydney
    • Posted March 6, 2015 at 6:40 pm
    • Permalink

    wow!!!!
    -Sydney (is in their 5th grade class)


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