Local dancers to perform in PNB’s ‘Nutcracker’

  • Written by Deborah Stone
PNB Hayden 2
Photo courtesy of PNB. Rose Hayden (right, front)
It’s “Nutcracker” season at Pacific Northwest Ballet and among the many children dancing in the beloved Stowell/Sendak holiday production are six students from Woodinville.

They include Ashleigh Steedman, Cameron Schmitter, Faye and Rose Hayden, Riley Hoopes and Sarah Brooks.

Fourth grader Ashleigh Steedman, who attends Bellevue Christian School, will be performing the role of “small servant” in her first appearance in the production.

The 9-year-old began dancing when she was five and is currently in level two at PNB’s school.

She has seen the “Nutcracker” several times in the past and is thrilled to be among the cast and not the audience this year.

“I was so excited when I heard I got the part,” says Ashleigh. “I love dancing in front of people and can’t wait to have my friends come and watch me on the big stage. I’m also excited about the costumes.”

The young girl loves to dance, adding, “It’s really fun and I love the music and my teachers are so nice.”

PNB Steedman
Photo courtsy of PNB. Ashleigh Steedman
If she gets nervous before a performance, Ashleigh explains that she will just smile and try to keep calm.

When the local student isn’t attending ballet classes, she enjoys drawing and riding her horse Apollo.

Dance, however, is her passion and she hopes to become a professional ballerina one day.

Beer Creek Elementary fifth grader, Cameron Schmitter, is a veteran “Nutcracker” performer.

This marks the 10-year-old’s fourth consecutive year in the show and he will be dancing the role of “Party Boy.”

When he heard he had been chosen to dance in the show once again, Cameron was initially disappointed due to his role.

“I had been a soldier last year and it was really fun, so I hoped I would get to do it this year, too,” he explains. “But then I learned I would be on the stage for a longer time as ‘Party Boy’ so that’s good.”

Cameron has been dancing since he was four and particularly enjoys opportunities to perform.

Seeing PNB’s “Nutcracker” production as a very young child prompted him to begin studying ballet.

He currently takes classes three times a week. “My challenge is my flexibility,” he admits, “so I really have to work at it. I’m also working on learning double pirouettes which are hard to do.”

PNB Brookes
Photo courtesy of PNB. Sarah Brooks
Cameron, like Ashleigh, wants to become a professional dancer, too.

“My goal is to get in with a good company,” he adds. “And then when I retire, I still want to be involved with dance somehow.”

In addition to ballet, the local boy is involved in numerous activities including soccer, gymnastics, piano, figure skating and Taekwondo.

“I don’t have free time,” he comments. “I’m very busy.”

As for the other local students, sisters Faye and Rose Hayden will dance the roles of “Artillery” and “Party Girl” respectively, while Riley Hoopes will perform as “Infantry” and Sarah Brooks as “Small Servant.”

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker” returns to Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall for 30 performances December 7-29.

For ticket information: (206) 441-2424 or

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