Wilmington School of Ballet and Dance students have been practicing with Russian ballet professionals to prepare to hit the stage with the Moscow Ballet's performance of the Nutcracker. 

Elizabeth Hester, along with students from the dance school, joined First at Four to give a preview of the Nutcracker performance. 


The Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker is performed to Tchaikovsky's full score, including the prologue, and with a lot of Russian touches. 


Life-sized Matrushka or Nesting Dolls will be seen in the performance as well as the fasted Russian Trokia Sleigh in the world.

Here Now - Hester Felt Compelled to Revive Holiday Tradition Festival of Trees

By Si Cantwell Si.Cantwell@StarNewsOnline.com


For 25 years, Lower Cape Fear Hospice presented the Festival of Trees, showcasing more than 100 trees decorated by businesses and groups.

Elizabeth Hester feels she was meant to revive a longtime holiday tradition. As the executive director of the ballet company that has produced “The Nutcracker” for three years, she feels called to recreate the revered Festival of Trees.

As before, it will benefit Lower Cape Fear Hospice & LifeCareCenter.

But there’s even more to this new holiday festival than beautifully decorated Christmas trees and an elaborate stage production.

The Wilmington Ballet Company’s Cape Fear Festival of Trees also includes a 5K run, a Holiday Gift Boutique for shoppers, the Land of Sweets Cafe and a Children’s Gingerbread Village.

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Raising the barre

Elie Lazar from Joeffrey Ballet

By Amy Hotz Staff Writer - StarNews

There is a window at the Wilmington School of Ballet that looks into a rehearsal room. And through it you can see a male ballet dancer, his hand on the barre, his arms rising above his head.

And it's beautiful. Not a feminine beauty, but a very masculine one. His is a kind of beauty in strength.

To look at him with a passing glance, you believe each movement is effortless. That's the trick. But looking more closely, you notice the individual muscles and realize it takes a lot of work to make the dance appear easy.

Uncovering the hard, ugly work that goes into professional dancing and showing it to students across the nation is one of Elie Lazar's ambitions. The artistic director of the Joffrey School Dancers, Mr. Lazar must also make students realize that it's worth the effort.

"It's making it much more realistic. It's making it much more inspirational. Grab this magic world...

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Elizabeth Hester

Dara Holmes

2015 Review of The Nutcracker

by Arthur Shuey of Star News and Access Wilmington

WBC's press releases used most of the synonyms of “spectacular.” This reviewer can honestly and enthusiastically do the same. The piece has a number of built-in obstacles ranging from dicey use of a huge number of very young children to a confused storyline to an irregular tradition of musical inclusions and even character names. Though Nutcracker is an almost mandatory part of any serious American ballet company's annual offering, accounting for 40% of revenues each year, nationwide, it is a challenge as to what and how to present.
Wilmington's artistic community has inherent challenges, as well, with a number of territorial and competitive organizations relevant to a production of this sort … dance companies, venues, sponsors and individual performers all have to be teamed. It requires a Kissinger in pointe footwear. We have one, Her name is Elizabeth Hester, and she is the Wilmington Ballet Company's Director. Over several years, she has identified the greatest strengths of the region's dance resource organizations and found the ideal Nutcracker scenes to spotlight them all. A proponent of local talent, she met the challenge of getting them all to work together in one cohesive team while at the same time making optimal use of our community's wonderful new performance facility, the Cape Fear Community College Humanities and Fine Arts Center. The space is huge, versatile, and laid out for comfortable traffic flow, and she made use of every floor, balcony and open space to give us a fantastic holiday gift.
Reflecting back days after the show, this reviewer still feels compelled to stand and again applaud the children for innocence and artistic discipline, the adults for achingly beautiful and perfectly executed routines, the director for weaving local elements into the production and the entire cast and all volunteers and allied persons for grasping and making possible the opulence and innovation that made the program belong to each and every person in the house.
Looking over Nutcracker criticism dating back to its first performance in 1892, one find frequent comments that it is unbalanced between the first and second act. That is a concern because the first act takes place in a home, a wealthy mansion of a home with a ballroom, seen through the eyes of children who want to believe that dreams are real but still a real home, whereas the second act takes place in “The Land of Sweets,” a magical place with which no home set in Reality can compete as a set. Addressing this imbalance is largely the responsibility of the first act's primary magical character, Herr Drosselmeyer. He was portrayed this year by Robin Robertson, a renowned professional actor whose cape flourishes and overall grace translated the mundane into the magical the entire time he was onstage, effectively raising the first act to the level of the second. WBC press releases stated that the children enjoyed his presence onstage, and as unlikely as that seemed when read prior to the performance regarding a mysterious character in a a cape, predominantly black attire and an eyepatch, it was wholly believable during after after the show. To have done without an actor of Robin Robertson's caliber would have left a hole much like an empty chair where Santa was expected to preside over a children's Christmas party.
There were “pre-game” caroling performances in the building outside the hall proper and between-act demonstrations of martial arts and gymnastics that were coherent parts of a show based on movement. The volunteers were all smiling and well-informed about the venue, and there were plenty of them. All segments of the community were represented, and it was a magnificent gift to us all from us all. But particularly from Elizabeth Hester.
Thank you all.


Our mission at the Wilmington School of Ballet is to use ballet as a tool to nurture health, confidence, kindness, and discipline in each dancer. This is achieved by excellent classroom instruction and theatrical performance opportunities. We value and strive to teach technical excellence, overall wellness, creative artistry, character development, & community service. To help achieve our goals, we offer dance lessons & ballet classes to both youth and adults in the Wilmington, NC (Cape Fear) area which include pointe; pre-pointe, ballet, tap, jazz, choreography, kids only classes, pre-school classes, and so much more!

Operational hours 3:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Office Hours 12:30 pm - 5:30 pm

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