If you go
What: "The Nutcracker"
When: 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Clay Center
Cost: $27.50 to $57.50 for adults, $15.50 to $37.50 for children
Info: www.theclaycenter.org or 304-561-3570
This is a weekend of Brigette Madden's favorite things.
She gets to dance in the annual Charleston Ballet-West Virginia Symphony production of "The Nutcracker." She gets to dance to live music.
And she joins the stage with her best friend and older sister, Sheena.
"We've always been each other's best friend in ballet and in life," said Brigette, 20. She and Sheena, 22, both started dancing when they were 3 and now are members of the company.
Sheena said the sisters have always encouraged and supported each other and have learned to appreciate their respective talents. They have different body types that give them different strengths on the stage.
"I'm more of a turner," Brigette said, while Sheena is more adept at graceful extensions.
As ballet director Kim Pauley was staging the production, she realized the Madden sisterhood isn't unusual this year — there are seven sets of sisters in the show.
All the girls say they encourage each other, even if some are more enthusiastic dancers than their sisters. As younger dancers, girls start out in roles such as gingersnaps, mice and pages; as they mature and develop skills, they often graduate into roles such as snowflakes, and various ethnic dancers. Top roles include the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara.
Virginia Groce, 11, says she intends to stick with dance for years to come, but isn't sure her younger sister Bonnie feels the same way.
Shanley O'Brien, 12, says her 15-year-old sister, Siercia, is supportive, and Taylor Edwards encourages younger sister Karli.
Leana Kahwash, 8, was probably destined to dance, following the ballet footsteps of her older sisters, Jenna, 12, and Deema, 14. But she says she loves it nonetheless and now takes two classes a week.
The sisters join a cast of 75 dancers and guest artists from the ballet, including Olievier Wecxsteen of the English National Ballet School in London, principal dancers with Radenko Pavolovich's Columbia Classical Ballet and dancers from the Columbia Classical Ballet in South Carolina.
The ballet, with music by Tchaikovsky, is based on the E.T.A. Hoffmann tale "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King."
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4830.