Ballet West Returns With ‘Nutcracker’ Ballerina Rylee Rogers

Apr 23, 2021, 7:55 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Ballet West returns to the Capitol Theatre stage over the weekend with three performances of “The Glass Slipper.” The production features a young dancer we at KSL-TV News have been following for years.

Excitement filled the air as Ballet West II dancers and academy students returned to the stage, rehearsing for World Premiere performances this weekend.

We watched the fascinating technique earlier this week in the ballet studio as Pamela Robinson Harris, Principal Rehearsal Director, gave notes to the dancers over Zoom.

She said, “And pointe, that’s beautiful!” to a young ballerina who will look familiar to many of you because we have been following her career for 9 years.

“I’m really, really happy to be here,” Rylee Rogers said.

We first met Rogers when she danced the coveted role of “Clara” in Ballet West’s “The Nutcracker” in 2012. She was 10-years-old.

KSL-TV was backstage as a make-up artist put the finishing touches on her look. At the time, she was thrilled to be on stage with Ballet West professionals.

“You just get to work with awesome company dancers,” she said.

In 2014, we followed Rylee to New York City, where she was cast again as “Clara,” in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular! Young fans waited outside the stage door to meet her.

In 2017, Rylee was invited to study with the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York City.

“I don’t know if I could have survived by myself, so I’m really, really grateful that they moved out there for me,” she said.

“As a family, we decided to put our lives on hold and uproot to the Upper West Side of Manhattan,” Rylee’s mother, Shannon, explained in an email.

Rylee’s father, Chris, took a leave from his law firm in Utah and became licensed to practice law in New York state. Rylee’s younger siblings – brother, Tanner, and sister, Savannah – both made changes and sacrifices, as well. 

Eventually, COVID-19 struck and they were all taking Zoom classes.

In 2020, Rylee graduated from the Professional Performing Arts School. Her studies enabled her to enhance her technique and broaden her experience.

“I really learned a lot about musicality and speed and clean footwork,” she said.

With the challenges they faced because of the pandemic, Rylee’s family decided to move back to Utah. That’s when she reconnected with Ballet West.

Artistic Director, Adam Sklute, not only remembered Rylee from her “Nutcracaker” performances, but they had crossed paths in San Francisco when Rylee studied there in the summers and he was a visiting instructor.

He was very pleased to receive her email.

“She came back, she took class, she was perfect for Ballet West and now, she is doing wonderfully in Ballet West II, (the training program) and is on a fast track to moving up in this company,” he said.

Rylee is now 19, and will once again take to the Capitol Theatre stage in “The Glass Slipper.”

Cinderella, she said, remains her favorite “Disney” movie, so naturally, this production is a joy and she wants to do well.

“I’m improving every day and that’s all I can ask for. And the fact that I get to perform this week, I’m so, so excited and I couldn’t be happier,” she said.

Each step as a dancer Rylee has called a “dream come true,” though her study of classical ballet has been filled with hard work.

“I love that ballet is such a challenge. There is always somewhere to grow to. You never stop improving. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be here!”,” she said.

“The Glass Slipper” performances Friday and Saturday were sold out at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake.
Seating is socially distant and masks are required. Saturday evening’s production will be presented in Spanish.

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Ballet West Returns With ‘Nutcracker’ Ballerina Rylee Rogers