Behind the scenes of Nutcracker Reheasals

 The Ballet of Peter Pan

Interview in Spanish

Saint Augustine Ballet’s new production, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, to open May 13 & 14, 2017 

By Carolyn Karger

Saint Augustine Ballet’s new production, ALICE IN WONDERLAND,

to open May 13 & 14

 At Lewis Auditorium, Flagler College, St Augustine


Saint Augustine, FL – April 21, 2017 –  On May 13th and 14th, Saint Augustine Ballet’s newest original production, Alice in Wonderland, will take a thrilling romp through the classic fantasy tale that has entertained audiences for generations. Through the universal languages of dance and music, color and light, the non-profit ballet company has created a fresh, exuberant take on the timeless story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland designed to delight audiences of all ages.


Artistic Director Luis Abella explains, “Children have always related to Alice – her curiosity and her bravery in the face of a bewildering new world.”  The director continues, “For this show, we have brought together an exciting mix of contemporary dance styles and eclectic music that will appeal to adults just as much as children.”  


With inventive, original choreography by Emily Masson, Alice makes her way through a magical Wonderland made real by Florida School of the Arts professor and head of scenic and lighting design, Robert O’Leary.  To a musical score sourced from all over the globe - from classical and romantic, to American jazz, steam punk, North African percussion, and exotic middle-eastern strains – dancers create the unforgettable characters Alice encounters along the way.  Dazzling costumes created by Parisian-native, Virginie Lorang-Woodward, complete the enchantment. 


Artistic Director, Abella, a former professional dancer with the Cuban National Ballet, Minnesota Ballet and University of Miami Ballet, founded the non-profit Saint Augustine Ballet in 2009 to bring full-length classical ballet to northeast Florida audiences, and to provide young dancers with opportunities to perform alongside professional dancers from around the world.  In Alice in Wonderland, he brings professional tap dance sensation and choreographer, Jenne Vermes, to dance the role of the Mad Hatter alongside her professional dance ensemble, Noise Complaint, and talented ballet, tap and contemporary dancers from over 20 area schools.   


Now in its ninth season, the Saint Augustine Ballet produces two full-length ballet productions each year: the classical St Augustine holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, each December, and an original production each spring.  Past spring productions have included The Ballet of Peter Pan, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Peter and the Wolf.  Previous Saint Augustine Ballet productions have featured principal dancers from the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Minnesota Ballet, and Carolina Ballet, among many others.  


Alice in Wonderland will be performed on Saturday, May 13th at 7 pm and on Sunday, May 14th at 2 pm at Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College, 14 Granada St., St. Augustine, FL 32084.  Tickets are $25 and may be purchased online at or by calling 855-222-2849.  Saint Augustine Ballet is a 501(c)3 non-profit performing arts organization.

World class ballet dancers to perform in the 2013 'Nutcracker' production
From Cuba to St. Augustine:
The Nutcracker Connection

By Ed Albanesi

Need another reason to attend the Alice in Wonderland Ballet at Flagler College’s Lewis Auditorium on Mother’s Day Weekend? Well I got you one.

For a small donation, ballet guests (and passers-by, for that matter) will be able to take individual/small group photos at Alice’s Looking Glass Photo Booth.
The booth is being provided by SmileFish (check out their Facebook page;, with the cost being underwritten by David Setzler, a great guy who runs a successful personal injury practice without benefit of ubiquitous billboards and unceasing television ads.

Setzler told me that his sisters participated in ballet and his mom was an artist so his support for local dance comes straight from the heart.

He said he knew as a young teenager that he wanted to become an attorney because of the way his dad, an insurance executive, always talked glowingly about his attorney friends.

Seltzer, who grew up in Philadelphia, received his undergraduate degree from Florida State. The experience caused him to fall in love with North Florida and, after receiving his law degree from the University of Minnesota, he returned to Florida to begin practicing. And he has been doing just that for more than 25 years in St. Augustine.

In addition to Alice’s Looking Glass Photo Booth, the Wonderland Boutique will be open before and after both performances of the ballet. Themed keepsakes at very competitive prices will be available. Flowers for the dancers, provided at cost by Jade Violet Florist, will also be for sale. All of the net proceeds from boutique sales go directly to support the St. Augustine Ballet.

There will be a raffle or two with guests given the opportunity to win four tickets to the 2017 St. Augustine Ballet Nutcracker next December packaged with gift certificates donated by Claude’s Chocolates and Culinary Outfitters Bistro.

Lava Moose will have its traveling ice cream equipment on hand to mix up some treats for guests and Kelly Fleischman will be set up with her fabulous assortment of bows.
Bake or Eat Sweets will have cookies and other baked goodies available, which will go very well with Alex Wimpelberg’s unique blends of home-roasted coffee.

All lobby activities will provide a fun experience for guests while helping to support dance in our community through the efforts of the St. Augustine Ballet.

The “Alice” cast consists of 54 students from 26 schools (including homeschooled).

Harlow Hatin and Ella Wimpelberg will share the role of Alice. Arianna Fleischman will portray the White Rabbit and Devin Mantei is the Cheshire Cat.

Kali Lee is the Queen of Hearts, Kiera Pheffer is the Duchess and Grace Karger is cast as the Caterpillar.

Other cast members include:
Jenny Albanesi, Maya Alvarez, Josephine Anzelmo, Marla Ayrish, Sabrina Berman, Mileena Bicknell, Danielle Bleau, Lexi Brockway, Sydney Brockway, Abby Chapman, Milo Christensen, Elizabeth Coleman, Catalina Davis, Katherine DeAcutis, Julia Douglas, Christina Dyches, Kismet Field, Jaida Fioreze, Carolina Garcia, Rayna Glad, Jocelyn Herstone, Jake Karger, Evie Kirschling, Riley Kirschling, Meadow Kuc, Nature Kuc, Emaleigh Layman, Naomi Lewis, Ayla Lugo, Paris Lugo, Emma Maroney, Claudia Mueckay, Adelaide Pacetti, Carson Palmer, Katie Pennington, Ofir Pizanti, Lucy Ramsey, Baylee Rogan, Anthony Romero, Sarah Salvi, Emily Screnock, Emma Sweeney, Alexa Walcott, Jolynne Waldner, Jordan Wallace, Eléa Woodward and Tess Woodward.

Schools represented in the cast include:
Gamble Rodgers Middle, St. Augustine High, Pacetti Bay Middle, St Johns Academy, Durbin Creek Elementary, Murray Middle, Wards Creek Elementary, Timberlin Creek Elementary, Valley Ridge Academy, Hartley Elementary, Otis Mason Elementary, Crookshank Elementary, Indian Trails Middle, St. John’s Virtual, Florida Virtual, Cathedral Parish, Fruit Cove Middle, Bertram Trails High, Moultrie Montessori, Ketterlinus Elementary, Wadsworth Elementary, RB Hunt Elementary, St. Augustine Public Montessori, Homeschool, Flagler College and the University of North Florida.

Based on the Lewis Carroll children’s story of the same name, the ballet is being brought to the stage at Flagler College’s Lewis Auditorium with performances at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 13and 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 14.

You can purchase tickets at

To see this column on Totally St. Augustine click the link below.