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On Stage with the Evergreen City Ballet

Holiday Feature

By Courntey Swinger

Photographs provided by the ECB

The ECB (Evergreen City Ballet) has been performing The Nutcracker for decades, but this year holds special anticipation with new choreography from Artistic Director Gillmer Duran. Reflections sat down with Duran to talk about his career and what he’s bringing to the stage this holiday season.

A native of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Duran says his love for dance began when he was just 11 years old.

“I started with Venezuelan folk dance, jazz and contemporary dance, but it wasn’t until I turned 21 that I really started to buckle down and take ballet dancing more seriously,” Duran says. “I decided to focus my attention on pursuing dance full time, and now I can’t believe it’s already been 24 years!”

Throughout his career, Duran danced professionally with various companies in South America and the Pacific Northwest. He eventually discovered a desire to express his own stories as an artist, and in 2004 he began to experiment with choreography.

“Your career as a performer is significantly shorter than other professions. For example, if you're a lawyer you can still practice law after the age of 60. When you're a dancer, your body is your instrument and most people start thinking about retirement or a career transition around age 40,” Duran says. “In my case, I knew I wanted to be able to continue to choreograph and add value to the world of dance through offering my creative expertise to young dancers.”

One of Duran's main goals now that he’s become an artistic director is to be able to translate the values, work ethic and skills he learned throughout the years to young dancers.

“Dance has taken many different turns. Besides being an after-school activity or physical outlet for kids of all ages, it's also an art form that requires discipline, passion, dedication and grit,” Duran says. “That being said, I seek to produce not only great dancers, but also great human beings that grow to appreciate the journey as much as the destination.”

With that, he hopes to bring an appreciation of dance to the King County community with this year’s performance of The Nutcracker.

“I have the privilege of working with exceptional people that know The Nutcracker from top to bottom. Some of my dancers have performed the show multiple years in a row,” Duran says. “We hope to provide a time for families to be together and be away from their phones for an hour or two.”

Local dancer Mackenna Malady has been performing for 14 years in various companies and is excited to be working with Duran on The Nutcracker this year.

“I have been with ECB for three years now and love it,” she says. “Although I have practiced other forms of dance, I enjoy ballet the most because of how graceful it is."

The Nutcracker will be performed every weekend starting Nov. 24 through Dec. 17. They provide three convenient locations: The Theatre at Meydenbauer Center, Auburn Performing Arts Center and the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center.

→ For more information and ticket availability, click here. 

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