Home for the holidays in ‘The Snow Maiden’

Posted on December 6, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun
Jamie Mellendy and Viridiana Martinez Brazier, the original Snow Maiden

This holiday season, Sonoma Conservatory of Dance is back onstage at the Sebastiani Theatre with its classic winter wonder tale, The Snow Maiden

The production features several alumni in on-stage roles, including Viridiana Martinez, who played the titular character in SCD’s first production of The Snow Maiden, as well as other starring roles. She returns to play the Snow Queen and Fortune Teller. “I have a new appreciation for the story as an adult,” Martinez says. “It almost feels like I am doing this for the first time, yet I have the comforting memories of being a part of past productions that make  me feel like I am home again.”

Emily Curiel, another SCD alum, is returning to take on the role of the Snow Maiden a second time. She says that returning to the troupe is “a lot like coming home.” Another familiar face: Cat Austin, reprising her 2017 cameo as Mama Winter. 

Patty O’Reilly, executive and artistic director of SCD, is thrilled for the homecomings. “It’s such a  pleasure and honor for me to get the chance to work with my former students and interact with them as peers.”

SCD’s personal approach creates an environment that contributes to students’ overall development and sense of self, not their technical or performance skills alone. As a naturally introverted kid, dancing in SCD’s productions provided Curiel with opportunities to open up, gain new confidence, and forge long-lasting friendships. “I can’t imagine my life now without all the people I met at SCD, “ she says. “Patty has done a great job in creating a welcoming and collaborative environment without sacrificing the lessons in clean technique that she provides for everyone.” 

O’Reilly finds it “wonderful for the new generation of students to interact with our alumni who  completely understand the studio’s philosophy of maintaining a high technical standard while keeping the development of the whole person front and center, just the way they themselves were trained and  mentored.”

This original ballet, based on Russian folklore, plays December 18-19 at 1 p.m. $12-$22.


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