A day in the life of a professional dancer

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  • Abby Cockrell, professional dancer from Whitefish, will be performing the role of the Snow Queen in Noble Dance Performing Co.’s “Nutcracker Ballet.” - Photo by Tim Cross Photography

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    Mia Gannon plays Clara for Noble Dance Performing Co.’s “Nutcracker Ballet.” - Photography by Wayne Murphy of JMK Photography

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    Noble Dance Performing Company pictured left to right: Solveig Baumgarten, Annie Howeth, Kaylee King, Tove’ Davies, Mia Gannon, Eden Rodriguez, Elise Sabin, Allie Jellison, Brie Treat Not Pictured: Amariah Fellers and Olivia Rice - Photography by Wayne Murphy of JMK Photography

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    Abby Cockrell, professional dancer from Whitefish, will be performing the role of the Snow Queen in Noble Dance Performing Co.’s “Nutcracker Ballet.” - Photo by Tim Cross Photography

  • Abby Cockrell, professional dancer from Whitefish, will be performing the role of the Snow Queen in Noble Dance Performing Co.’s “Nutcracker Ballet.” - Photo by Tim Cross Photography

  • 1

    Mia Gannon plays Clara for Noble Dance Performing Co.’s “Nutcracker Ballet.” - Photography by Wayne Murphy of JMK Photography

  • 2

    Noble Dance Performing Company pictured left to right: Solveig Baumgarten, Annie Howeth, Kaylee King, Tove’ Davies, Mia Gannon, Eden Rodriguez, Elise Sabin, Allie Jellison, Brie Treat Not Pictured: Amariah Fellers and Olivia Rice - Photography by Wayne Murphy of JMK Photography

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    Abby Cockrell, professional dancer from Whitefish, will be performing the role of the Snow Queen in Noble Dance Performing Co.’s “Nutcracker Ballet.” - Photo by Tim Cross Photography

Professional dancer Abby Cockrell with Northern Ballet in England will be dancing the role of the Snow Queen in Noble Dance’s “The Nutcracker.”

Cockrell grew up in Whitefish and in her sophomore year of high school began her studies at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she attended four academic classes daily and spent the remainder of the day studying dance. After graduating in 2013, Cockrell continued her training with the Professional Division at Pacific Northwest Ballet. She accepted her first professional job as a dancer in 2014 with Sibiu Ballet, followed by the Bucharest National Opera, before joining Northern Ballet in England in 2016.

Northern Ballet’s company tours and performs 20 weeks of the year, five days a week. When performing, Cockrell says a typical day begins around 11 a.m. with five hours of rehearsal and ends after the evening performance, about 10 p.m. The workweek also includes a travel day. The company performs primarily throughout the United Kingdom, with one recent trip to Dubai.

Northern Ballet keeps her on her toes, so to speak, but Cockrell does manage to get home to Whitefish about once a year. Calling herself a mountain gal, she loves being home with her family and always heads for Glacier Park.

At the same time, she loves living in England, in particular, its beautiful autumn weather and the fact that from her home in Leeds she can hop on train in mere minutes.

Cockrell and her Scottish partner from Northern Ballet, Gavin McCaig, will be dancing the roles of the Snow Queen and Snow Prince using the Royal Ballet’s choreography.

“I haven’t danced professionally in Whitefish yet and I’m really excited.” Cockrell said. “It’s also good exposure for the other dancers.”

Serendipitously, Cockrell turns 25 on Dec. 8, the day of the last “Nutcracker” show. She returns to England the next day where she’ll be dancing in “Cinderella” through December while also beginning rehearsals for Northern Ballet’s Jan. 4 50th anniversary gala celebration.

Cockrell is also finishing her degree this year from Arizona State University in integrated health and medicine. She hopes one day to be able to incorporate her dance training with her medical training — not for at least 10 years, though.

“I’d like to be dancing as long as I can,” she said.

Noble Dance presents ‘The Nutcracker’ in Whitefish

The Noble Dance Performing Company presents “The Nutcracker” with special guest artist Abby Cockrell, a Whitefish native, currently dancing professionally with Northern Ballet in England. Under the direction of Natalie Molter, the ninth annual Winter Celebration will have four showtimes in Whitefish on Dec 6, 7 and 8 at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center.

Noble Dance breathes new life into the classic tale of “The Nutcracker” with a fresh storyline, strong choreography and inspired dancing.

Act 1 begins with Clara, played by Mia Gannon of Bigfork, entertaining her friends at a holiday party. With the arrival of the mysterious Aunt Drosselmeyer comes the entertainment of two life-size dolls that dance their way into Clara’s imagination. Once the party is over, Clara dreams of a dramatic battle where toy soldiers spring to life to protect her from the creepy house rats. When the commotion of the Battle Scene subsides, tranquility settles in as dancing snowflakes transport Clara through the Enchanted Snow Forest and on to the Land of the Sweets. Treat inspired solos, duets and trios from all over the world occur one right after another, from Spanish Chocolate and Arabian Coffee to Chinese Tea and Marzipan and more, led by everyone’s favorite, the Sugar Plum Fairy, danced by company dancer Elise Sabin of Whitefish. The tradition isn’t complete without the Waltz of the Flowers.

This year, Whitefish native and Molter’s former student, Miss Abby Cockrell, will be coming back to the States to perform in Winter Celebration. Currently residing in England and dancing with Northern Ballet, Cockrell will be performing with her Scottish partner, Gavin McCaig, also of Northern Ballet in England. The two professional ballet dancers will be performing as the Snow Queen and King during Act 1 and will also be highlighted in the gorgeous grande pas de deux of Act 2.

“It will be an absolute treat to have Abby and her partner share the stage with us again,” Molter said. “Our company is very excited. Abby is a powerful performer and I can’t wait to see how she has grown in these past few years.”

Although the workload of the production is placed largely on the shoulders of the Noble Dance Performing Company dancers, every student in the Noble School of Ballet and Storybook Ballet School, some 200 students, is also performing during the weekend along with another special guest artist and co-founder of Noble Dance, Carol Jakes Sullivan. Miss Carol, as she is lovingly referred to by her students, developed the Storybook Ballet School, where the youngest dancers at Noble Dance are inspired. She will be dancing the role of Aunt Drosselmeyer, the magical and mysterious dollmaker.

Noble Dance has put together a festive, holiday ballet to celebrate the season.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday, Dec 6; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec 7; and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec 8. Tickets are $20 adults, $10 students, (and lap sitters free.) All tickets are reserved, available exclusively at nobledance.org.

Entertainment Editor Carol Marino may be reached at 758-4440 or thisweek@dailyinterlake.coM

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