'She's a pleasure to teach'

Jennifer Bell to dance three roles in 'The Nutcracker'

Jennifer Bell to dance three roles in 'The Nutcracker'

December 08, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - When she dances, Jennifer Bell feels outside of herself.

"With different ballets, you go into a different world," she said.

Jennifer, 17, has entered the fairytale world of "The Nutcracker" a dozen times since she started dancing at the age of 3.

"'The Nutcracker' is part of me, I've done it so much. If I weren't doing "The Nutcracker" at the holidays, I would be completely lost," said Jennifer.

She started as a Polichinelles, dancing out from underneath Mother Ginger's skirt.

In later years, she was featured as Clara. This year, she is cast as Dew Drop, Snow and the Spanish soloist.


"There's no little role, no unimportant role," Jennifer said.

More than 100 dancers are cast in this year's production.

Jennifer spends 20 hours in the dance studio each week. Each Saturday, she spends eight hours in a technique class with the entire Potomac Classical Youth Ballet Company.

On Sundays, it's another three hours. On Friday afternoons, she teaches 5-year-olds basic ballet.

She also takes two ballet classes, a modern dance class and a pilates class at The City Ballet School.

During the summer, Jennifer attended the Burklyn Ballet Theatre in Vermont for two weeks. It is an "elite kind of summer program," said Lauran Clowser, PCYBC artistic director.

Jennifer's time there gave her a new way of thinking about dance, she said.

At Burklyn, she was asked to dance at the International Ballet Festival in Scotland, but had to decline the invitation because of other commitments.

"She's a pleasure to teach," said Clowser, who called Jennifer humble, which "can be unusual when you have someone who rises to the role of soloist in a small company. Egos get in the way."

Clowser also complimented Jennifer's "great feet" and "good legs."

"Her body is built like a dancer's," Clowser said.

Jennifer is a senior at North Hagerstown High School. She takes three Advanced Placement classes this semester and is co-editor-in-chief of the school's yearbook.

Jennifer, daughter of Robert and Kathy Bell, has lived in Hagerstown her whole life.

She plans has applied to Towson University and Goucher College, where she hopes to study dance and "something else." She enjoys her Advanced Placement psychology class and is considering a medical-related course of study in college, she said.

The colleges offer a good balance of dance and academics, and "that's hard to find in a college these days," Jennifer said.

At both schools, Jennifer would have great performance opportunities because the departments are small and, "they start grooming you for performances right away," Clowser said.

Jennifer hopes for a dance career after college.

"I would really love to perform and wouldn't mind teaching," Jennifer said.

She knows that job opportunities for dancers are limited and she would be happy with whatever she can get, she said.

She just wants to dance, and she might return to The Maryland Theatre as a soloist for the PCYBC in the future.

Jennifer still hasn't danced the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

"I would love to dance Sugar Plum (but) that's reserved for the soloists we bring in," she said.

If you go . . .

What: "The Nutcracker"

Where: The Maryland Theatre

When: Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 10, at 3 p.m.

Tickets are available through The Maryland Theatre Box Office at 21 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown or by calling 301-790-2000.

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