November 26, 2018

Growing up with the Sugar Plum Fairy at Greater Salem Ballet Company

by cns2020

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By Joey Phoenix 

The holidays have arrived! Boughs of holly, evergreen accents, and twinkling holiday lights cover the lampposts in cities all across the North Shore. It’s time for caroling, present wrapping, and going to see the Nutcracker. 

Fortunately for North Shore residents, the Greater Salem Ballet Company has its very own production of this classic ballet. There will be two performances this Saturday December 1st (Noon and 4PM) at Lynn Auditorium in Downtown Lynn. 

For this performance, Greater Salem Ballet Company is excited to welcome back Festival Ballet Providence dancers Eugenia Zinoveia and Alan Alberto as the Sugar Plum Faerie and The Cavalier.

Photo by John Andrews

The Greater Salem Ballet Company is a non-profit organization formed in 2013 by Artistic Directors Seanna Chmura and Susan Byrne, along with Assistant Director Katie Machado. It’s a part of a larger studio called A Performing Arts Academy, which offers other styles of dance including jazz, hip hop, and contemporary. 

“The Nutcracker is really special every year because it is the official start to our holiday season and this year especially because it is our 5th Anniversary.” says Greater Salem Ballet Company co-director Seanna Chmura.

“After 20 years with a different company, Susan Byrne (co-director) Katie Machado (assistant director) and I went out on our own from scratch. With the support of our community, talented dancers, and their dedicated families, our company has flourished into a full ballet company capable of putting on a beautiful, dynamic Nutcracker.”

What’s incredibly special about this year for Seanna is that there are four seniors graduating, among them North Shore native (Marblehead) Jenny Minney, who will be dancing as the Dewdrop Fairy in this year’s production. This is Jenny’s 12th year with the company, and she’s been involved with their production of the Nutcracker for as long as it’s been running. 

Photo by John Andrews

Since she started with the Great Salem Ballet Company she has performed in many roles including Clara (2012) and Marzipan (2016). This year is special for her however because not only is it her last year with the company, but her grandparents from the United Kingdom are flying in to see her perform, three of whom will be seeing her perform for the very first time. 

Jenny has been dancing since she was three years old, and after a quick stint as an ice skater when she was very little, dancing took its place at the forefront of her life. 

“When my mom found out that I didn’t like the [ice skating] practices, but that I liked the performances at the end of each year, she thought I should try dancing again.” Jenny recalled. “I went to this studio and have been dancing with them ever since.” 

For her, dancing is a lifestyle. Not only does she do ballet, but also contemporary, jazz, and hip hop. 

“[Dance] is very much a sharing art.” Jenny said. “I think that’s a huge part of it, I get to showcase what I’m working on and share it with the community and my family and friends.” 

Performing for Jenny is “Pure enjoyment in the moment. When I come off stage, I can never seem to remember what I did when I was on it because I was so in the moment.” 

Now a high school senior, Jenny is in the process of applying to colleges all over the country where she is looking to study architecture in the United States and potentially abroad, which she’s hoping her advanced studies in art, math, science, and Spanish will help her achieve. 

“I did a a summer program at Boston architectural college this summer.” She explained. “I went in not knowing anything about architecture and not really knowing if that was something I wanted to do, but then it turned out I really enjoyed it.” 

Despite her newfound love of architecture, she also hopes to continue dancing throughout college. “I’d like to audition or tryout for the dance team at whatever school I go to or if not just take classes. I’m not looking to major in dance, but I’m definitely going to continue dancing.” 

When she’s not dancing, in school, or doing homework, Jenny spends her time working with ceramics or painting, and sometimes even hanging out with friends – most of whom are dancers. 

“It’s a very tight schedule. I go from school to dance team after school, and then I go to dance at the studio five days a week, and then do homework.”

Photo by John Andrews

The Nutcracker is such an important production during this time of year for Ballet companies, and Jenny’s history with the company makes this production so special for her. 

“I know the directors really well, and dancing with all the same girls I dance with every day.” She says It’s like a big family, as well as a great ballet company. I think I can really work with them really closely and create a good show and connect with the dancers. 

“We work well together to create a great show.” 

About the Greater Salem Ballet Company: Our mission at The Greater Salem Ballet Company is to give dance students an opportunity to perform locally in a professional quality ballet production while learning in a warm, encouraging and nurturing environment! Join us this year for our 5th Anniversary Production of ~ THE NUTCRACKER! December 1st, 2018

Joey Phoenix is a performance artist, pet photographer, and the editor of Creative North Shore. Follow them on Twitter @jphoenixmedia. If you have an idea for a story, feature, or pictures of adorable llamas, feel free to send them a message at