By Suzy Kridner
Civic Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker" Dec. 8-9 is a homecoming for guest artist Cervilio Amador of the Cincinnati Ballet.
He will be dancing a solo as the Cavalier and then a pas de deux with fellow guest artist Jacqueline Damico, also of the Cincinnati Ballet and Mr. Amador's girlfriend.
In 2003, Mr. Amador was to perform at Peabody Auditorium but instead defected during the night to Miami with Gema Diaz. Both were with the National Ballet of Cuba at the time. Several other dancers defected in the coming weeks that year.
He said he wanted more artistic freedom to perform with other ballet companies.
Janet Peburn, president of Civic Ballet, said more than 70 young dancers representing 11 dance studios in the area have been rehearsing since August for this year's production, the 27th for "The Nutcracker."
She said, "We were looking for a guest artist and Cervilio's name came up as available for that weekend. I Googled him and found his story."
"We try to make our guest artists really special. It took a lot of courage to do what he did at that age. His family is still in Cuba. Other dancers defected, too," said Ms. Peburn.
"He's very talented. And we are very pleased to bring him to this area," she said.
Ms. Peburn said choreographer Germaine Bledsoe, Civic Ballet's artist director, and her mother, Lori Smoak, saw a need for a community-based ballet and encouraged local studios to come together and perform together.
This is Civic Ballet's 31st year, Ms. Peburn said.
Ms. Bledsoe's mother, Lori Smoak, founded the European School of Performing Arts. Now, her daughter is artistic director and a choreographer.
This year choreographer Cari Merrill, who teaches at the European School of Performing Arts, has redone the snow scene and the Waltz of the Flowers in the style of the Joffrey Ballet, where Ms. Merrill had training.
"We are really excited for this year's performance," said Ms. Peburn.
"We have new choreographers this year," she said, "so you can expect lots of surprises."
Kristin Wheat, a choreographer, and Amber Johnson, both dancers with Surfscape Contemporary Dance Co., also are guest dancers. Both are appearing in the Arabian Dance.
In addition to performances at 2 p.m. Dec. 8-9, there is a Sugarplum Tea following each performance. Tickets must be purchased in advance for the tea, which is open to children ages 14 and younger. They also will meet some of the Nutcracker performers.
Tickets for the ballet range from $15 to $34, plus service fees. They may be purchased at the Peabody Auditorium Box Office, 600 Auditorium Blvd., Daytona Beach, or at www.ticketmaster.com
Also, there is a $5 discount for children and seniors in the two upper price levels.