'Dancing dads' recruited for 'Nutcracker' in Chambersburg

November 26, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Still a bit sore from running the JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon on Saturday, Laszlo Madaras was exercising a different set of muscles Tuesday, hoisting petite Sarah Milback above his head.

"Today, I'm not going to fly as high as I usually do," the Chambersburg Hospital physician said during a brief break in rehearsals for the Chambersburg Ballet Theatre Co.'s production of "The Nutcracker."

Madaras is one of the "dancing dads" the ballet troupe has recruited for performances of the famed Tchaikovsky ballet at the Capitol Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. In the past, he has worked backstage in support of daughter Sylvia, but last year appeared as the grandfather and this season has a featured role as Drosselmeyer.

This year's production features about 40 dancers, many in more than one role, with more than 100 costumes, Artistic Director Lavinia Reid said.


"It's amazing. Here you have people who hadn't acted a couple of years ago," Reid said. Those dads, along with some moms, she said, have grown into their roles, "loosened up and learn to improvise."

"Last year was my first time as a candy cane," said Richard Rodriguez, an engineer at Letterkenny Army Depot. He is in a relationship with Elizabeth Meighan, whose three children dance with the company.

While Rodriguez has a background in athletics, he finds dancing involves "muscles you didn't use before."

"The candy cane part is 60 seconds of aerobic activity," Rodriguez said.

"It gives you a good appreciation of how hard they work," said Jim Addlesberger, whose daughter, Marina, and wife, Mary, are also in the ballet. "It's also good relation-building, because we're dancing with our wives."

Like athletics, it tests people to work individually and as a team, Addlesberger said.

"And, of course, we're all part of the stage crew, setting things up and tearing them down," said Evan Sutton, a registered nurse and the wily veteran of the dancing dads, having helped recruit the other men.

Sutton and Rodriguez have played distaff roles with the ballet, having once been the evil stepsisters, Druscilla and Anastasia, in "Cinderella."

"Ballet is not manly" is a myth, said Addlesberger, the chief technology officer for a large insurance wholesale brokerage company. The workouts have taught him otherwise, he said.

Beads of sweat on the dancers, the perspiration-stained T-shirts and the humid air in the second-floor studio of the Capitol Theatre confirm that the girls, boys, moms and dads are burning some serious calories.

Baseball terminology is one thing, ballet terminology another, Rodriguez said. The dads have had to learn the meanings and the moves behind the endehors (outside turn), pas poisson (step of the fish), saute' chat (cat step) and other French dance phraseology.

"They've come so far," Reid said of the dads. "They have become very nice character dancers ... They act and they dance."

"In all the great ballets, you have men who do the great character roles," Reid said.

Ticket information

For information on shows and tickets, call the Capitol Theatre box office at 717-263-0202.

The Herald-Mail Articles