International Ballet Star Joseph Phillips to headline Columbia Ballet School’s Nutcracker

Columbia Native is Ballet’s Most Decorated Male Dancer

Joseph Phillips, a Columbia native and the most decorated male ballet dancer in the world, will dance the role of the Sugar Plum Cavalier in Columbia Ballet School’s fifth annual production of The Nutcracker. Performances will take place Fri., Nov. 15 through Sun., Nov. 17 at the A.C. Flora High School Auditorium.

Known around the world as “Ballet’s Golden Boy” because of the number of gold medals he has won in international competitions, Phillips received his early dance training with Columbia Ballet School’s founder and artistic director, Anita Ashley, and other teachers in the Columbia area. Phillips, who has danced with Miami Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the State Primorsky Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Russia, trained with famed Russian dancer and teacher Stanislav Issaev at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and later at the American School of Ballet before attending the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

“We are delighted that Joseph will perform in Columbia where so many of his friends, family, and supporters can be present,” Ashley said. “Our production is intended to be a top-level performance opportunity for our students. They benefit in countless ways from this experience, and dancing with Joseph is quite simply icing on the cake.”

In addition to Phillips, the production includes guest artists Terrance Henderson as Drosselmeyer and Bobby Craft as the Rat King and Mother Ginger. Henderson is the 2016 recipient of the Steve G. Morrison Visionary Award and is renowned for his work as an actor, singer, dancer, director and choreographer. He is the dance coordinator at the Midlands Arts Conservatory and the founder of the trio Indigo Soul. Craft has performed on Midlands stages for more than 40 years, working with groups including Columbia Ballet Theatre, Carolina Ballet, Columbia City Ballet, Palmetto Mastersingers, South Carolina Philharmonic, Workshop Theatre, Town Theatre, Trustus Theatre, the University of South Carolina Theatre, Chapin Theatre, and Lexington Theatre.

The majority of the dancers in Columbia Ballet School’s production of The Nutcracker are between the ages of 6 and 17. Lindsey Christian, a junior at Hammond School, will dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Arianna Kruidenier, a junior who is home-schooled, will be the Snow Queen. Guest artist Nicolas White will dance the roles of Snow Cavalier and in the Arabian Pas de Deux with Dreher High School senior Logan Acker. Hammond School junior Milly Johnson will be the Dew Drop Fairy. The production is a collaboration between the Columbia Ballet School and the A.C. Flora High School dance department, headed by Katy Dallas.

“Our production, because of its 90-minute length, is a perfect ‘first ballet’ for children and a kick-off to the holiday season for all of us,” Ashley said. “Our young dancers are exceptionally talented, and we hope our production sparks an interest in dance for young girls and boys in the Columbia area.”

Performance dates are Fri., Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 16 at 6 p.m.; and Sun., Nov. 17 at 3 p.m., at A.C. Flora High School Auditorium. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children and seniors. For information or to reserve tickets, call 803-783-5258 or visit the Eventbrite page at