For a young ballet dancer, it doesn’t get much better than opening your Nutcracker casting letter to find out that you’ve received the role of Clara. This year, San José Dance Theatre presented this news to Twilight Lin and Natalie Ramskov. Receiving the coveted role of “Clara” is their first opportunity as a dancer to carry the narrative of a ballet. Twilight and Natalie have their own unique style and path that has led them to this role. Both dancers share their story of dedication and success in their spotlight profiles.
Introducing, Natalie Ramskov, a 6th grader at St John Vianney.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS DREAMED OF BEING CLARA, AND WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO HAVE THIS ESTEEMED ROLE? WHAT ASPECTS OF THE ROLE ARE DEMANDING ON YOU?
It is a dream come true. It feels amazing to play the role of Clara. I feel honored. I hope I do a good job. I am excited to dance with Mr. Michael (Michael Howerton) who danced with my mother, Linda Hurkmans, and her sister, Jackie Berger, when they were children at San Jose Dance Theatre. Mr. Michael also danced with my sister Julienne Ramskov, when she performed the role of “Clara” in 2014. Every part of the dancing is demanding, except for the acting parts, which I love to do and have fun doing. The long hours of rehearsals are demanding but I enjoy being with my good friends and dancing!
HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU TOOK YOUR FIRST BALLET CLASS? DID YOU IMMEDIATELY FEEL PASSIONATE ABOUT IT?
I started gymnastics when I was 18 months old and started ballet when I was 5 years old. I don’t remember if I felt passionate about it but I enjoyed the music and moving my body and making friends. I definitely feel very passionate about ballet today. I can’t imagine my life without ballet.
WALK US THROUGH A TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR LIFE?
I wake up at 7am, and get ready for school. I attend school from 7:45am-3:00pm, have a quick snack, and go to ballet. I have a ballet technique class and an additional class, like Chinese Tumbling, Pointe, Pas de Deux, Pilates or Contemporary dance, depending on which day of the week it is. I also sometimes have private coaching for the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competition and /or Nutcracker rehearsals. I go home, eat dinner, do homework, sometimes ice my feet, and go to bed. On the weekends, I have ballet technique class, rehearsals for The Nutcracker (or the Spring Performance), do homework, and enjoy spending time with my family and friends.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR ASPIRATIONS FOR THE FUTURE, DOES BALLET HAVE A ROLE?
I want to keep dancing ballet for as long as possible. I love ballet but am not sure if I am good enough to be a professional ballet dancer. I want to go to college, get a job, and still dance as much as possible. At 11, I am still thinking about what I want to be when I grow up.
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT BALLERINAS?
A big misconception is that ballet is “easy”. It is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work, concentration and years of training. It should be taken seriously. The truth is, the better the dancer, the easier he or she makes it look, but it is very hard work.
IN WHAT WAYS IS YOUR CHILDHOOD DIFFERENT FROM YOUR NON-BALLET FRIENDS?
I would guess that I do not have as much free time as my non-ballet friends. I spend much time training, so I think I am in pretty good shape. I like to challenge myself physically, try to get all of the combinations correct and try to do better. I don’t have time for extra-activities like sports or drama but I don’t mind because I love ballet. Ballet is awesome. I also love my friends at ballet and get to spend much time with them in class and rehearsals. We have a lot of fun together. I like my teachers, too. They are good and really push me to be better.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK?
My favorite book is “The Last Dragon Chronicles” by Chris D’ Lancy.
YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?
One of my favorite movies is “Spiderman Homecoming”
YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT?
My favorite restaurants are Il Fornaio, California Pizza Kitchen, and Panda Express.
The Nutcracker is an enchanting ballet in which young Clara Stahlbaum’s favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical, Candy Kingdom.
Tickets for the performance range in price from $38-$68 and may be purchased online at sjnutcracker.com. With San José Dance Theatre’s commitment to making the arts more accessible to all in the community, half price tickets are available for both Friday night performances and group pricing is available for all other performances. Tickets are also available through the City National Box Office, 135 W San Carlos St, San Jose, CA 95113 or by phone at (408) 792-4111, Monday-Friday 10am-5pm.
About San José Dance Theatre
For more than 60 years, San José Dance Theatre has trained beginning through advanced dancers for a lifetime of participation in and appreciation of the art of classical ballet. Originally founded in 1954 as Paul E. Curtis Jr.’s Los Gatos Academy of Dance and West Valley Foundation, San José Dance Theatre is the resident ballet company of the Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose and was voted Best Dance Company in Silicon Valley by the Metro. San José Dance Theatre’s vision is to inspire dancers of all ages in the exploration of the art of dance, to foster growth through high-level training and mentoring experiences by professional dancers and instructors, and to promote the art of dance through creative public awareness campaigns.