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Hudson teen lands big role in Nutcracker

Jordan Jankowski of Hudson has been rehearsing for her role as Clara in the Ballet Minnesota's 25th production of "The Classic Nutcracker."

Hudson Middle School student Jordan Jankowski has been selected to dance the role of Clara, in the Tchaikovsky holiday ballet, "The Classic Nutcracker."

Ballet Minnesota celebrates its 25th anniversary of performing "The Classic Nutcracker" at the O'Shaughnessy Auditorium, 2004 Randolph Ave., on the campus of St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Dec. 14-16. Tickets prices range from $30 to $44.

When Jankowski learned she had been selected to dance the role of Clara, the 13-year-old ran through the house in excitement, but since that moment it has been all hard work and discipline.

"I've been eating a lot healthier, no candy, no junk food," said Jankowski, a seventh-grader in Hudson Middle School. "And it's helped me feel more awake and energized for the long dance rehearsals in the evenings. I get to sleep on the weekends."

In the Nutcracker, the story begins on Christmas Eve. In the story a young girl, Clara, her mischievous brother Fritz and their family are hosting a party. A latecomer to the party is Clara's mysterious godfather Drosselmeyer. He presents her with a marvelous gift, a nutcracker doll. As Clara goes to sleep that night, the audience is transported into a fantasy of the Rat King fighting the toy soldiers, Nutcracker Prince escorting Clara through the enchanted snow-covered forest and on to his Kingdom of the Sweets where Clara accepts the throne from the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Jankowski's favorite scene to perform as Clara comes in the first Act soon after the Nutcracker comes to life and a battle ensues with the Rat King and his army.

"It's so intense with the Rat King snapping his whip. It's easy to act scared," said Jankowski.

The Hudson student will be one of 130 local and national dancers in the production. Guest soloist Jennifer Goodman, a former Joffrey Ballet Company member, will dance the starring role of Sugar Plum Fairy. Dancing the demanding role of Cavalier will be Matthew Prescott, a company member of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet in Washington, D.C., and formerly with The Joffrey Ballet Company.

"When Clara takes her seat on the throne in the Marzipan Castle, the quality of our seasoned stage production really shines," said Cynthia Betz, Ballet Minnesota's Executive Director. "Each year we have enhanced our stage production. Our Chinese Dragon blows smoke, our grandfather clock has eyes which follow Clara's movements, and "horses" pull a glass sleigh to carry Clara to the Land of Sweets. All of these elements combined with our exquisite costuming and professional dancing create a memorable experience for the audience which is why people return year after year."

Jordan is the daughter of Nora and Jamie Jankowski of Hudson.

Tickets prices range from $30 to $44 for adults, $18 for children 13 and under and $22 for seniors. Order online at or call The O'Shaughnessy ticket office at (651) 690-6700. Performances are Friday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 16, at 2 p.m.

Husband and wife team, Andrew and Cheryl Rist, have been at the helm of Classical Ballet Academy, founded in 1987, and Ballet Minnesota, which they co-founded in 1990. Jankowski is a student at the academy. Andrew Rist has served as Ballet Minnesota's Artistic Director and Cheryl Rist has served as Ballet Minnesota's co-artistic director, costume designer and director of Classical Ballet Academy, the company's school for dancers ages 9 to 18.