A Holiday Curtain Call

By Beacon Staff

Last week at the Dance Arts Center in Kalispell, a Snow Queen, an Arabian Princess, a Sugar Plum Fairy and a Dew Drop Fairy gathered together to dance.

They gabbed and giggled as they put on their pink shoes, their smiles only disappearing when the music started and the serious and beautiful business of ballet began.

Dancing can be a stress-inducing endeavor for many people, but the four principals of the Northwest Ballet School and Company make it look effortless and graceful. These girls – McKenzie Javorka, Shelby Deaton, Celia Roessmann and Meredith Stanfill – have each worked for more thana decade to dance in the main roles in this year’s performance of the Nutcracker.

Marisa Roth, left, owner and director of the Northwest Ballet School and Company, works with senior Celia Roessmann during point class in Kalispell.

And since the four girls are seniors, this is their final Nutcracker production with the company.

“It’s going to be a fabulous show,” Javorka said. “But for the four of us it’s going to be pretty emotional.”

The Nutcracker has been a tradition for the ballet company for more than 15 years and is usually performed in Bigfork to ring in the holiday season.

As the principals of the ballet company, the seniors are expected to be role models for the younger girls. Ballet company owner, teacher and Nutcracker director Marisa Roth said the seniors are diverse and effective leaders.

“The good thing is they’re all different,” Roth said.

In fact, the only time the seniors ever act the same is when they are dancing in sync. As the self-described “maternal” leader from Flathead High, 18-year-old Meredith Stanfill will play the Dew Drop Fairy this year. In pointe class, she is the picture of composure on the dance floor. She helps younger students work on dance moves that would crush the average person’s toes, all while making it look good.

The leadership differences among the seniors help them form a strong team, Stanfill said.

“It’s amazing because we get along really well with each other,” Stanfill said. “The Northwest Ballet Company does a good job supporting each other even though we have differences.”

Shelby Deaton, center, begins pointe class at the bar with her fellow principal ballerina, Celia Roessmann, Meredith Stanfill and McKenzie Javorka, left to right.

Stanfill and Celia Roessmann have been dancing together the longest, so it’s not surprising that they both act like mother hens to the younger dancers. But Roessmann has an unmatched passion for dance, the other seniors said, pushing through numerous past injuries and acting as a key source of inspiration.

The 18-year-old from Bigfork started ballet 13 years ago. This will be Roessmann’s 10th Nutcracker performance, and she will be dancing as the Sugar Plum Fairy. When discussing her role, there is a small measure of sadness mixed in with excitement for the upcoming performance.

“It’s really hard,” Roessmann said. “I’ve been dancing there since I was 4; it’s kind of my second home.”

The seniors unanimously described McKenzie Javorka as the silent leader. This is a good thing, the Flathead High senior said, because she develops close relationships with the younger dancers and helps them along. The other seniors also said Javorak provides an essential calming presence in the inevitable panic that comes before a performance.

While she may be quiet, Javorka, 17, expresses herself without reservation when she dances. She’ll be the Snow Queen this year in her 10th Nutcracker ballet.

“I love to dance; I’ll always try to do as much of it as I can,” Javorka said.

And then there’s Shelby Deaton, a senior at Glacier High School. She’s the spitfire of the group, the chatty one who backs up her extroverted personality with powerful dancing. Deaton makes her pointe classmates laugh between exercises, but also takes her craft seriously. Her fellow seniors describe her as the “go-getter” and the “go-to woman.”

Deaton, 17, moved to Bigfork from North Carolina when she was 12 and has been dancing since she was 3 years old. This is her fifth Nutcracker production with the ballet company, and she will take on the role of the Arabian Princess.

Celia Roessmann stretches with fellow Northwest Ballet School and Company members during a pointe class at the Dance Arts Center in Kalispell.

Flathead High School housed the ballet last year while the theater in Bigfork was under construction, but it is back at its home this year. According to Deaton, the Nutcracker belongs in Bigfork.

“I’m really excited about it; I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.” Deaton said. “It just feels more like Christmas down there.”

The Northwest Ballet Company’s performance of the Nutcracker takes place at the Bigfork Center for Performing Arts on Nov. 27 and Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. 8 p.m. The final Sunday performance takes place on Nov. 29 at 4 p.m. There will also be a Dec. 5 show in Libby. Tickets are available at Books West in Kalispell until Nov. 25; afterward they can be purchased at the theater door. Call the Dance Arts Center with questions at 755-0760.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.