Local returns to New Orleans to dance in Nutcracker
Janie Taylor makes her first professional return to New Orleans as a dancer in the lead role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in Delta Festival Ballet’s 31st annual production of “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 21-23 at Tulane’s Dixon Hall.
As a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and having danced with Giacobbe Academy of Dance from age 12-15 – performing with Delta Festival Ballet and New Orleans Youth Ballet, Taylor has been a Bon Bon, a candy cane and Clara in the Nutcracker in her youth, and a doll, snow, Spanish dancer, Demi Flower, Marzipan, Dewdrop and the Sugar Plum Fairy since joining New York City Ballet. She understands the magic of the ballet.
“The story of the Nutcracker takes place during the holidays which is such a wonderful time, especially for children,” Taylor said. “It is about children and their magical journey to the land of the sweets. It’s a very special thing to be a child and get to perform in the Nutcracker.”
Taylor, who attended St. Mary’s Dominican High School before going to New York to pursue her dancing career, said she had always loved dancing as a child. She was mesmerized after seeing a New York City Ballet performance when she was 14 and thought, “I want to do that.”
She’s worked hard to become a principal dancer with NYCB. In the fall of 1995 at the age of 15, she entered the official school of the New York City Ballet – the School of American Ballet – fulltime. Three years later, she received the Mae L. Wien award for “outstanding promise” at the school’s annual workshop and was invited to apprentice with New York City Ballet. A month later, she became an NYCB corps de ballet member. By February 2001, she was a soloist with the company. She has been a principal dancer since January 2005.
Some of her more notable appearances have included the nationally televised broadcast “New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project: Ten Years of New Choreography” live from Lincoln Center on PBS in 2002, and in Columbia Pictures’ feature film “Center Stage.” She has danced major roles in The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and Afternoon of a Faun.
Joseph Giacobbe and Maria Giacobbe, artistic directors of Delta Festival Ballet, remember Taylor’s unique talents as a youth dancer among fellow gifted, determined and interested dancers.
“You couldn’t help but notice her,” Joseph Giacobbe said. “There was something in the eyes, that eagerness to do well and want to do better. She not only saw with the eyes, but she listened with the eyes – the sign of the student who wants to absorb everything, the hungry ones. I never had a doubt that she would become not only a dancer, but a very successful one.”
Taylor said she absolutely adores dancing; she couldn’t do it if she didn’t feel that way due to its rigors of discipline and hard work. She enjoys how dancing involves every single part of a person, mentally and physically.
“I like the way it makes me feel, and I like the idea of using my body to create and express something beautiful,” she said.
She is delighted to return home to dance.
“I love New Orleans so I am happy to get any chance to visit,” she said. “I will probably be a little nervous with all my old ballet teachers watching but I think it will be a lot of fun to dance in New Orleans.”
Delta Festival Ballet’s Nutcracker has a cast of 130 and is accompanied by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Performances are Dec. 21 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 22-23 at 2 p.m., at Tulane’s Dixon Hall. Details: 888-0931.