Two St. Martin’s-in-the- Field student actors, 12-year-old Madelyn “Maddy” McKinty and 10-year-old Colin Bixby, have both found community, friendship and fun through dance. They each shared their ballet journey and their experience in performing in the Chesapeake Ballet Company’s 2020 production of “The Nutcracker.”
Maddy began dancing in 2013 and enrolled at The Dance Academy in Severna Park in 2015. During her initial years at The Dance Academy, she had seen “The Nutcracker” a few times and was pleasantly surprised when her mom presented her with a new black leotard and told her she would have the opportunity to audition. In her first year performing, she had four roles ranging from a mouse to an angel.
Last year was Maddy’s first performance on pointe, which she approached with excitement. Due to the pandemic, practices for the Dance Academy and the Chesapeake Ballet Company drastically changed. Practices for “The Nutcracker” were staggered and the entire production was filmed in one day over many hours. However, Maddy adapted to the challenges and credited the “great teachers” for making things easier.
“My favorite part wasn’t actually performing but the opportunity to have the same experience and seeing everyone Saturday [for filming],” Maddy recalled.
Her experience with the Chesapeake Ballet Company is deeply cherished.
“I have a vivid memory of playing hand games with my friend, Tonya, right behind the scenery and the lights going off [during a blackout in the scene] and hearing the beautiful music and being with all my friends,” Maddy said.
Her dream role is to play the angel soloist.
Maddy enjoys practicing tap and acrobatic dance in addition to ballet. She plans to compete in the Youth American Grand Prix ballet competition this summer.
Colin began dancing around 2013 in North Carolina, where he first performed in “The Nutcracker.” His family moved to Severna Park two and a half years ago and enrolled Colin in ballet at the Severna Park Community Center. Eventually, Colin enrolled at The Dance Academy and was introduced to Chesapeake Ballet Company’s “The Nutcracker” through Maddy.
Colin’s first role was as Fritz’s friend, and he most recently played the part of Fritz and a Little Mirliton.
“I just like it. I got to see Maddy a lot. I got to run around and play games,” Colin reflected.
Colin’s dream role in “The Nutcracker” is to play Drosselmeyer or the Prince.
Like Maddy, Colin credited the great teachers who made an unusual year easier.
“Barbara [Haskell] and the team of parent volunteers were incredible,” said Colin’s mother, Elaine Bixby.
The day of filming, “parents were volunteering outside or inside,” Elaine said. “Kids would come outside when they weren't in scene and parents would have an area set up for them. When a scene was done, they would take out the set and continue rolling.”
Colin will continue to practice ballet as well as jazz and tap into the new year.