By Jeffrey Smith, News On 6
TAHLEQUAH, OK -- A brand new ballet company is bringing the fine arts to Eastern Oklahoma. On Sunday, the Tahlequah Ballet is debuting with The Nutcracker.
When ballet director Patricia Hendrix moved to Oklahoma two years ago, she opened a tiny studio with 30 students.
Now, they've got more than 200 dancers from dozens of small towns and for their first production they wanted to make a statement.
Hendrix has been helping her dancers get loose for the matinee performance. She hasn't had much time to unwind.
"It's my passion, it's my true passion to be able to come and teach, both the youth and the adults out here," said Hendrix.
A professional ballerina from the East Coast, Hendrix moved to Tahlequah two years ago. She saw a void in the arts throughout Eastern Oklahoma.
"There's so much talent out here, just so much talent," said Hendrix.
So she created the Tahlequah Ballet Company this summer and for their first production they're tackling the pageantry and precision of The Nutcracker.
"It's a good way for a small town that never had the chance to come experience more culture, to come out and experience more art," said Stephanie Epp of Tahlequah.
For dancers young and old, performing this standard is a labor of love.
"It always surprises me when the arts surpass sports in the Midwest sometimes," said Nutcracker Cavalier Kyle Leapline
Hendrix says she wants to give kids a chance they never had in rural Oklahoma.
"I have one student that only trained for two years, she's incredible, she could be a professional in just two more years of training, and there's a lot of little girls like that," said Hendrix.
Girls like 10-year-old Natalie Walker who dreams of becoming a professional.
"It's very fun, and it's entertaining, too," said Walker.
And the joy of performing keeps every dancer on their toes.
You can contact the Tahlequah Ballet Company by calling 918-207-5460.