Local ballerina featured in ‘Nutcracker’
by KEVIN GROSS
Portage Park resident and ballerina Megan Hosp, a featured soloist in Ballet Legere’s upcoming production of "The Nutcracker," remembers that her love for ballet began more than a decade ago when she was in kindergarten, performing small roles for the same holiday favorite production that features children and adults.
It was also about 12 years ago when her mother, Shari, said that she first encouraged her daughter to audition for that show after reading a notice in the Nadig Newspapers about Ballet Legere’s production. She was surprised the initial interest bloomed into a passion and a possible career.
"I just thought it was kind of funny, we saw the notice in our paper, and you don’t have that foresight when you see an ad to say that it could start a hobby or passion," Shari Hosp said. "And when a kid starts a hobby, you don’t have the foresight to say ‘yeah, maybe our kid will stick to it.’ It’s surreal."
Megan, now age 17 and a senior at Jones Prep High School, will be featured in six soloist parts in different scenes in the upcoming production, which marks Ballet Legere’s 34th year of the show. Additional seniors from other area schools who will perform in the classic Tchaikovsky music show include Elyse Hroma, Sarah Danganan and Iris Parke.
Public performances will be held at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, in the Lund Auditorium at Dominican University, 7900 W. Division St., River Forest, with additional shows for school audiences held Monday, Dec. 10.
"I’ve been taking ballet lessons since I was 3-years-old, and I’ve been in (Ballet Legere’s) production for 12 years," Megan Hosp said. "Performing ‘The Nutcracker’ is where my love for ballet really started, it was my first introduction to ballet. There’s so much good energy and happiness in the show."
According to the company’s Web site, the annual production of "The Nutcracker" has been performed for more than 100,000 school children and the cast features 120 dancers each year. The company has an alumni base of more than 4,000 dancers, actors, and performers of all ages. Many children have grown up with the production and audition each year since the inception of the company 34 years ago.
This year, Megan will be featured as "Pierrot" (she splits this part with someone else), "the Nutcracker," "Lead Angelica," "Lead Marzipan," "Chinese Soloist" (a split role), and "Beauty Rose," according to her mother.
"She started performing as a ‘Flowerette,’ handing the flowers to the older dancer playing ‘Beauty Rose’ (in the ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ scene)," Shari said. "Now, the current ‘third Flowerette’ is handing Megan the flowers as a soloist. It’s really come full circle."
Since then, Megan’s participation in ballet has grown from introductory Chicago Park District programs at Peterson Park to helping produce and choreograph shows at Jones Prep, as well as filling in for more professional productions of George Balanchine works such as "Serenade" and "Rubies." Shari said that Megan additionally has grown into a role model for younger ballet students.
"Meg remembers that when the high school girls talked to her, it thrilled her. Now she’s doing the same thing," she said. "One girl in particular adores her. Last year during dress rehearsals, in the aisle she would mimic any movement that Megan did (for the show.)"
Megan currently plans to study dance in college and said that the dance program at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, already accepted her. She continues to apply and audition for programs at other schools including Indiana University at Bloomington, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Utah.
Megan has also studied other forms of dance including jazz, tap and hip-hop, but she said, "My real passion is ballet. I’ve dabbled in a bit of everything and definitely like performing more lyrical pieces as well, but my first interest in ballet is definitely the passion that stuck."
Ballet Legere’s public performance ticket costs range from $29 to $34 for adults, and $24 to $29 for children and seniors, with post-show backstage tours offered for an additional $7.
For more information, about the performance visit www.balletleg ere.org.