George de la Peña

Celebrity Dancer & Actor of Stage and Film, George de la Peña, to play Drosselmeyer in TCFAF’s Nutcracker

GEORGE DE LA PEÑA, former dancer with American Ballet Theater, musical theatre performer, choreographer, actor, and teacher, will be re-enacting the wonderful and mysterious role of Herr Drosselmeyer for TCFAF’s Nutcracker this December at Brayton Hall.

Longtime friend of TCFAF, George emceed “For the Love of Dance” with artistic director Rasta Thomas in May 2006 as well as “Another Evening of Dance, Music and Drama” in November 2003.  When Barbara Pankhurst asked him to play Drosselmeyer for TCFAF’s Nutcracker, he did not hesitate!  In fact, he is enthusiastically bringing two of his dance students, Jennifer Pray and Steven Gray, both from the University of Iowa, to play the Sugar Plum Fairy and her dashing Cavalier.

Originally trained as a concert pianist, George switched to ballet while studying at the High School for the Performing Arts in New York City. He graduated from Balanchine’s School of American Ballet and joined American Ballet Theatre in the 1970s, rapidly rising to soloist. While at ABT, George danced in works choreographed by Baryshnikovde MilleMacMillan, and Robbins, among others. George can be seen in Baryshnikov’s production of Nutcracker, on television and on DVD.

George began acting when he was cast as Nijinsky in the film Nijinsky (1980), and for some time thereafter he was typecast in Russian roles. (In a 1983 interview in the New York Times, an exasperated de la Peña, who is of mixed Russian and Argentinian descent, pointed out that producers thought he was not a native English speaker.) He appeared on Broadway in Woman of the Year, the revival of On Your Toes, The Red Shoes (Drama Desk Award nomination), and Chronicle of a Death Foretold (Drama League Award). While living in Los Angeles during the 1980s, he performed in Cats and various regional productions.

His film and television credits include Nijinsky, Kuffs, Brain Donors,  Mighty Aphrodite, The Dust Factory, Red Hot, One Last Dance with Patrick Swayze, Popeye Doyle, Personal BestThe Flamingo Kid, and guest appearances on shows such as L.A. Law and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

George has taught at universities across the country, including CalArtsConnecticut College, and the University of Iowa. Until recently, George served as artistic director of The Joffrey Ballet School in NYC.  He continues to teach for ABT.  A director and choreographer for both theatrical works and concert dance, he assisted figure skater Debi Thomas with her routine for the Olympics. George is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Director’s Laboratory.

Some of the illustrious choreographers he has worked with include: George Balanchine, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, Anthony Tudor, Mark Morris, Glen Tetley, Kenneth MacMillan, Ages DeMille, Andre Eglevsky, Peter Martins, Donnald Saddler, Lar Lubovitch, Graciela Daniele, Martha Clarke, Paul Taylor, Erik Bruhn, Rudolf Nureyev, Doug Varone, Alonzo King, etc.

Don’t miss George’s performance on the Brayton Hall stage this December 2, 3, 4, and 5.  Tickets are on sale at The Saltmills Diner and Unicorn Bookstore for $20 for Adults, $5 for Youth, and $35 for Balcony.