Tradition is a large part of the holidays for most families. My parents were both ballet dancers and our December holiday revolved around performances of the Nutcracker. I have carried on that tradition in Sierra Nevada Ballet with performances of the Peanutcracker-The Story In A Nutshell which I created especially for families with young children and which SNB has performed annually in Carson City and Reno for the past 20 years.
Peanutcracker has become part of our community, and it is especially inspiring to watch young people grow up dancing within this annual tradition as it is passed down from generation to generation.
Anthony McMenamy is one of those young people. Anthony was born in Carson City and first became interested in dance at age seven when one of his school friends asked him to join in a Boys Hip Hop class at Western Nevada Performing Arts Center in Carson City (an affiliated school of SNB). Anthony immediately loved the musical movement and decided to also try tap dancing.
By age nine, Anthony was “hooked on dance” and began taking a variety of classes including Hip Hop, Tap, Jazz, and Ballet.
Eventually, Anthony increased his ballet classes. “As I grew up I began to appreciate ballet more and more. It is demanding and athletic and requires a lot of hard work.” Anthony said.
McMenamy showed an aptitude for ballet, and I was very pleased when he decided to audition for Peanutcracker. He was first cast as a little boy in the Party Scene and did such a good job that the following year I cast him in the featured child’s role of “Frtiz”, the naughty brother of Clara who tries to break her Nutcracker.
Anthony feels that Peanutcracker made him want to continue dancing: “ Seeing the older professional dancers inspired me and made me want to achieve more and more and continue training so that I could be like them.”
Knowing that there is a lack of ballet education in the US, which contributes to the myth that ballet is “for girls”, I asked Anthony if he ever felt uncomfortable telling his friends that he studied ballet: “I never had a gender issue because I learned at an early age that ballet is a very difficult athletic art form and very suited to men.”
Anthony has always been comfortable dancing and attributes that in part to growing up within the popular musical theater scene in Carson City. “ I had no problem inviting my friends to see me perform. Dance is pretty popular in Carson City, especially through the Western Nevada Musical Theater company productions.”
By age 16, Anthony was cast as the Nutcracker Prince in SNB’s Peanutcracker and was hoping to continue on toward a ballet career upon graduation from high school.
Ballet takes extreme dedication and constant training to improve athletically, technically, and artistically and Anthony found that moving to Reno and juggling several teaching jobs (in dance) and attending UNR made it difficult for him to pursue a ballet career for a time and he decided to take a year off from training.
The COVID experience made Anthony revisit pursuing a ballet career. “I realized that I really missed ballet.” He said. He attended SNB’s summer production of Giselle and came backstage to ask me if he could come back to SNB.
Anthony officially joined the SNB professional company in September 2021 as a “featured corps” dancer and performed in this year’s production of Peanutcracker in the roles of the Military Doll, the Rat King, and the Spanish Prince.
McMenamy is happy to be dancing: “It feels really good to be a part of SNB again.”
He shares his love of dance with others by both performing with SNB and teaching on staff at several dance schools in Reno and Carson City: “I am very lucky that my friends and family have always been very supportive of my love of dance and I want to share the joy of dance with others. It has been a great experience to be able to grow up dancing.”
Anthony McMenamy will be featured in 2022 in SNB’s upcoming productions of Brew, Brats and Ballet, Swan Lake, and Dancing By The River.
For information about the SNB company performances and the SNB Academy classes call 775-360-8663 or visit www.sierranevadaballet.org.