Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dancer Guests Internationally & Returns to Orlando Nutcracker

Kailey Withee, a 17 year old Apprentice of the Central Florida Ballet, was recently chosen to travel to Sibiu, Romania to perform as a guest artist with the Teatrul de Balet Sibiu. During a 2 week + stay overseas from late November to early December, she helped Vasile Petrutiu, CFB's Founder and Executive Director, stage and rehearse Central Florida Ballet's version of The Nutcracker with the dancers of the Teatrul de Balet Sibiu. A total of five public performances were presented in Romania.

We spoke with Ms. Withee to learn about her overseas adventure and discussed what she learned during her experience that will help her in the Central Florida Ballet's upcoming performances of The Nutcracker to be held in Orlando next weekend from December 22-23, 2012 at the Orange County Convention Center.

1.    What was your typical day like? 

My day usually started at 10am with ballet class, from 11 on we had rehearsal till somewhere between 6 and 8pm. The first few days were mostly spent learning or re-learning choreography (several of the Teatrul de Balet Sibiu dancers performed in the production last year). The last couple days, we started having full act rehearsals, but I don't think it was until the day before the first performance we actually ran it all the way through. We only had 7 or 8 days to put the whole thing together.

Rehearsal of the Battle Scene in Sibiu, Romania.

2.    Do you like to perform for European or American audiences more? Are there any differences?

I don't really prefer one or the other, I think one thing that's so special about our Nutcracker in Orlando is you know your family is in the audience along with other parents and friends and you can feel the support from them when you're on stage. But that's just performing for the Central Florida Ballet's home audience. 

3.    What was one thing that surprised you during your trip, or something funny about the different culture?

Honestly I have no idea. hehe 

4.    Do you know any Romanian?

Haha I know a couple of words, but no, I don't know much at all. 

5.    The Nutcracker was modified from the version in Orlando. What dances, choreography, costumes changed?

Most of the choreography stayed the same. The Battle Scene was changed a little because we had more male dancers as the large mice, and Bon-Bons became clowns with 3 guys. Most of the costumes changed a little because we didn't bring them all with us this time; however they tried to stay as true to our costumes as possible. 

6.    What was most exciting about this trip?

Getting to see everyone again was so much fun, I had a great time with everyone and I got to spend time with Arielle and Saaya (who used to dance at Central Florida Ballet) and see how they live in a different country, which was really cool. 

Kailey Withee delights in the festive cold weather in Sibiu, Romania. Real snow!!!

7.    You traveled twice to Romania in 2011 and have attended ballet summer intensives in New York, Washington, and Rhode Island to name a few. Do you feel like a seasoned traveler? 

Haha I don't mind traveling. I mostly just put in my headphones and watch a movie and it passes the time. I definitely want to travel to different countries around the world someday. 

8.    What is your must-have item when traveling?

My iPhone because it has all of my music and movies on it. Without it it would be a very long trip. 

9.    Did you buy any souvenirs or unique items?

I bought some Christmas gifts here. I bought Ashton (who plays Maria in CFB's Nutcracker and who also traveled to Romania to perform as Maria) a bear from the Christmas Market for her birthday and we didn't realize it sang. So we were in the airport trying to fit it into her bag and it kept singing. I think the people around us were getting annoyed. haha 

CFB Student, Ashton Gordon, begins the celebration of her birthday in Romania.

10.    Did you go sight-seeing or do any fun activities?

We didn't have much time to go sight seeing. We went to the Christmas Market a few times and found different places to eat which was fun. 

The giant Christmas tree at the Christmas Market located in the center of Sibiu.

11.    What other city would you like to perform in the future?

It's my dream to perform in London someday. I've always wanted to go there. 

12.    What did you learn that will help you with the upcoming production in Orlando?

I think just getting to perform in front of an audience in a show was very helpful because I could tell how much more energy it was going to take from me and I can do it better in Orlando. 

13.    What are you most looking forward to: performing the Sugar Plum Fairy in the school show or Butterfly in the public shows?

I am looking forward to both. I was equally excited to find out I had both of those parts. I've been wanting an amazing opportunity like this forever. So I just hope I can do both of the parts justice! 

14.    What is your favorite dance in The Nutcracker?

I have always loved Jig. I love watching it and it was one of my favorite parts to perform. I also love watching our Waltz of the Flowers; it's so much fun to dance every part from lily to butterfly but the way it all comes together is always beautiful. 

15.    What is the best part of The Nutcracker (from rehearsals to performing)?

Performing is definitely the best part. Getting to see everything everyone has been working so hard on finally all come together on stage is awesome.

See The Nutcracker come to life next weekend here in Orlando -- at the Orange County Convention Center from December 22-23, 2012 where you'll be transported to the Land of Sweets along with Maria and the Nutcracker Prince to enjoy this classic holiday tale -- complete with fiber optics, pyrotechnics, and aerial acrobatics. Tickets and information are available at or by calling 407-849-9948. CFB's "The Nutcracker" is sure to be a dream for the whole family!


  1. Great interview, Kailey. I am so proud of you as a dancer and a person. Wish I could see all the Withees dance next weekend. Perhaps Santa will send me a copy of the ballet! Good luck to everyone next weekend. Your doting Aunt Shirley

  2. I love this post, you are so wise, I don't really.
    I think I'm still trying to find that 'purpose that's higher than myself' - I loved that line incidentally.
    ballet classes in orange county