‘The Nutcracker Ballet’ welcomes professional principal dancers

AMES – A “must see” event is the Iowa State Center’s presentation of “The Nutcracker Ballet.” Now in its 33rd year, this annual production is the longest running Nutcracker in Iowa and showcases sensational talent on stage at Stephens Auditorium, Dec. 14-15. A cast of more than 200 skilled dancers from many area and central Iowa communities will take your breath away in this holiday masterpiece.

Along with exceptional local talent, “The Nutcracker Ballet” welcomes professional principal dancers Joy Voelker Matossian and Justin Michael Koertgen in the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.

Matossian spent most of her childhood in Ames where her parents grew up and her grandparents still reside. Locally, she studied dance at the Robert Thomas Dancenter, Beth Clarke Studio and Lind Dance School in Des Moines.

In Michigan, she studied at The Rochester School of Dance and performed with the Michigan Ballet Theatre. During the summers she trained with The Juilliard School, The Joffrey Ballet and Paul Taylor programs. Graduating high school from the acclaimed Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, Matossian received the highest honor given, a Young Artist Achievement Award. That spring she was invited to perform for the Governor of Michigan.

She earned her Bachelor’s of fine arts from the Purchase Conservatory of Dance. Matossian moved to Amsterdam, where she worked with Dutch choreographer Anouk van Dijk who is currently the Artistic Director of Chunky Move in Sydney Australia.

Matossian resides in New York City, performing with companies such as CorbinDances, Lane & Co, Artichoke Dance, 360 and at venues such as Jacob’s Pillow, the Metropolitan Playhouse, Dance Theater Workshop, the Alvin Ailey CitiGroup Theater and others.

Matossian is also a faculty member at the Mark Morris Dance Group and presented arts outreach programs in Africa. She is also in the process of choreographing for a short film. Matossian performed the role of Clara in The Nutcracker at Stephens Auditorium in 1995 and is thrilled to return for her fourth year as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Koertgen was born and raised in Michigan and attended the Interlochen Arts Academy from 1994-2000. He danced for the Dayton Ballet for 12 seasons. Highlights from his time with Dayton Ballet include the roles of “Dracula” in Dayton Ballet’s Dracula, “Laertes” in Stephen Mills’ Hamlet and featured roles in Mills’ Red Roses and Five Flights Up, and Christopher Fleming’s Janis & Joe.

Koertgen has enjoyed several other roles including: “Romeo” and “Tybalt” in Septime Webre’s Romeo & Juliet, “Cavalier” in The Nutcracker, “Don Jos” opposite Anna Kirker in Carmen, and the title role in Christopher Fleming’s The Who’s Tommy. He has worked as the ballet master and the rehearsal assistant for the Dayton Ballet and has taught for the company and school for the past four years.

Koertgen has taught all over the country including Huntsville Ballet, Mercyhurst University, and Interlochen Arts Academy. He has choreographed for Interlochen Arts Academy, Mercyhurst University, and for the Dayton Ballet. He is currently dancing for BalletFleming and will be taking a faculty position at Interlochen Arts Academy in January.

Showtimes include 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 and 1;30 p.m. Dec. 15. Tickets for the performance of “The Nutcracker Ballet” are $25; $20 for youth, seniors, ISU students and groups of 10 or more. The Iowa State Center Ticket Office is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Tickets are also available at all Ticketmaster Centers. Visit www.ticketmaster.com or call 800-745-3000.