3 Minutes with Melinda Pendleton, Director of the performing company of The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker at UDPAC – November 20 – 22 – is performed by the students and professionals from the Main Line’s renowned Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet. Melinda Pendleton, Director of PABS, discusses the precision of classical ballet training, the benefit of discipline and the gifts that come from performing.

PAB is respected for its rigorous classical ballet training including precise technique, musicality, and complete body awareness and control. Many of the students of PAB become professional dancers.

Melinda Pendleton
Melinda Pendleton

Established in 1974 by her parents John White and Margarita de Saa White who performed as professionals with the Nacional Ballet de Cuba, Melinda Pendleton now oversees most of the daily activities at PAB as co-owner of the studio. Ms. Pendleton has danced for professional companies throughout the United States, Europe and Japan.

How does the discipline of classical ballet help make your students become better people?

MP: In this day and age of parental “hand holding” and never letting our children fail or struggle, this may be the only activity that these kids are doing that challenges this notion and prepares them for real life experiences. You can only excel as a dancer through perseverance and discipline and the challenges never stop coming.

Studying dance is hard work. Why do your students keep coming back to class?

Once they get to a certain age no one can force a student to come to ballet and have to work as hard as they do every day. It keeps them busy after school and when other kids are looking for the next party on Friday night or Saturday these kids are in the studio rehearsing and working on their technique. They know it’s something beautiful that they are a part of and each student is satisfying an artistic desire that most afterschool activities can’t satisfy.

Students Rehearsing
PAB students rehearsing

Why is this time of study important for your dancers’ future endeavors?

Whether a student of ballet stops after high school, college or goes on to have a professional career, this will always be a special part of their life. They will be able to look back on this time in their life with pride because they had to work very hard to be able to do the things they are doing.

As your students prepare to perform the Nutcracker, how do they take the pride they feel in their craft and express it to the audience?

We talk about this in class and rehearsal that the hard work the students put into their technique and artistry starts with a sense of pride in the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet, their teachers and their own hard work. The ultimate expression of this is in performance and what they portray to the audience.

What do the students feel they are giving to the audience? It is a gift of gratitude given TO the audience. You are thanking them for coming to the performance and supporting the arts and dancers through the dancers demonstration of good technique and artistic expression.

How do think your students connect with the young people in the audience? It’s exciting for our young performers to have the opportunity to perform. Performing live develops their coping skills and the thrill of applause and acknowledgement of their performance is the ultimate reward.

What do you ultimately want the audience to take away from your performances?

I hope that the young audience members leave inspired to dance, learn more about ballet or push themselves in whatever endeavor they are involved in at the moment.

The Nutcracker will be performed the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving. Tickets are going fast for this professionally produced production.

Tickets: $10 – $22 – Visit: www.udpac.org or call the box office: 610.622.1189

Dates and Times:

November 20 at 7:30 PM

November 21 at 11:00 AM

November 21 at 3:00 PM

(Photos with cast members after the Saturday, November 21 performances!)

November 22 at 1:30 PM

November 22 at 5:30 PM

For more information about The Nutcracker and to purchase tickets: www.udpac.org/show/nutcracker.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet, go to www.paacademyofballet.com


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