OA: Dad fills role of prince to dance with daughters in ‘Cinderella’

Dance Works’ production of the ballet “Cinderella” is a family affair for Avery Simmons of Grand Junction. He plays Prince Charming and his wife Lori portrays a page. Their three daughters also have parts:  Ember, 3, will be a summer breeze, Jessica Shook, 8, will be a mouse, and Nicole Shook, 12, will be a royal guest in the ballet.

Avery Simmons entertains his daughter Ember, 3, by lifting her off of the ground at the Dance Works Studio. Ember will dance as a summer breeze in the Dance Works production of Cinderella, while her dad will play Prince Charming.

To the girls in Avery Simmons’ family, he’s always been a Prince Charming.

The difference now is that he has to wear a costume.

Before a dance class Avery takes on Mondays with his oldest daughter, he shimmies into a pair of white tights and a sequined-embellished top.

Avery, 31, will dance the part of Prince Charming with his wife and three daughters in Dance Works dance studio’s upcoming ballet “Cinderella.”

He has a deal with the dance studio: He plays the lead male in their ballets and his three daughters, Nicole Shook, 12, Jessica Shook, 8, and Ember Simmons, 3, take dance classes.

“It’s definitely an interesting thing to see your dad in tights,” Nicole said.

“And a leotard,” Jessica said.

“He does not wear a leotard,” Nicole corrected.

Avery does have to special order ballet shoes in a larger size, though.

“I’m just happy it is what it is,” said Avery, examining his appearance in a mirror.

He’s seen worse costumes on men.

“A lot of guys would be really insecure, but he goes with it. He loves it,” Avery’s wife, Lori Simmons, said.

While watching her husband twirl Ember in circles, Lori said, “I just think he’s amazing. He does it for them and he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.”

Avery admits that coworkers at the wholesale plumbing company he works for rag him a bit, but they come to the performances.

“None of them have gotten any pictures, yet,” he joked.

Avery is a boxer turned ballet dancer. He didn’t give into dancing without a fight.

His aunt taught at Dance Works when Avery was in high school and was always trying to get him to try ballet.

“I always said, ‘no,’ ” Avery said. He was into boxing and martial arts.

Then, in 1996, the lead male dancer injured his foot less than week before a performance and Avery got called in as backup. Ironically, the ballet that year was “Cinderella.”

Since he didn’t know much about ballet, he just stood on stage and lifted dancers. He remembered that the glass slipper got lost behind stage and “sexy go-go boot” had to be used instead.

After that performance, he started taking dance classes two to three times a week.

A back injury a couple years later led to a hiatus from dance until recently, when Jessica began asking for lessons.

“He came back just in the nick of time,” said Kathryn Schulte, Dance Works founder and teacher.

The Simmons family now spends five days a week at Dance Works. All of the girls plus Avery have lessons and rehearsals, and Lori gets stuck fixing hair and washing and
rewashing the white tights.

Lori is not a dancer, but she’s playing the part of a page in the production and excited to be a part of something her whole family is involved in.

In “Cinderella,” Nicole is a royal guest, Jessica plays a mouse and Ember is a summer breeze, although she insists she is Cinderella and will cry if you tell her she’s not, Lori said.


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