Nearly 10 years ago, Kety Vandervelde thought her dancing days were over.
She was in the Israeli military serving her mandatory three years, at the end of which she was a 1st lieutenant in human resources, overseeing three units.
While she had danced since she was 5, training for many of her younger years at Bat-Dor, a school of dance in Be’er Sheva, Israel, three years away from dance was a long time.
So when she was done with her military service at 21, she didn’t think too much about returning to dance. But what would she do next, she wondered.
“I took so many turns in my ballet journey,” said Vandervelde, 27, on a recent weekday, sitting in a studio at Absolute Dance after teaching a class.
The latest turn will have her back on pointe as the Dew Drop in Absolute Dance’s performances of “The Nutcracker” on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 20–22, at Robinson Theatre in the Moss Performing Arts Center at Colorado Mesa University.
The performances will feature more than 80 students and faculty members from Absolute Dance, as well as guest performers Claire Rathbun and Jake Casey as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier. Both have danced professionally across the United States and Rathbun starred as Victoria the White Cat in “Cats” on Broadway.
Local magician Danny Baker also will make a guest appearance as Drosselmeyer, Clara’s godfather who gives her a nutcracker doll on Christmas eve.
Vandervelde was curious to see Baker as a friendly Drosselmeyer, who will invite children from the audience to help out with his magic tricks, instead of the more sinister Drosselmeyer she has seen in some productions of “The Nutcracker.”
Honestly, she’s just excited to see how it all will come together, including her choreography for the Spanish in Act II as well as her part as the Dew Drop surrounded by flowers, who also happen to be some of her students.
“Rehearsing with my students has been super fun,” Vandervelde said.
Although it has left her rather breathless at times. It’s the elevation. “That’s what I’m blaming it on,” she said with a laugh.
Until earlier this year Vandervelde was living in Mississippi, where she wound up after her military service ended in 2014.
While she was searching and praying about what to do following the military, some missionaries and friends of hers learned about Ballet Magnificat, a professional Christian ballet company based in Jackson, Mississippi.
Mostly as a favor to her friends, Vandervelde contacted Ballet Magnificat, which led to a Skype interview and an audition video. Vandervelde was accepted as a trainee in the company and months after her military service was over, she landed in Jackson on a student visa.
Vandervelde spent three years with Ballet Magnificat, during which time the dance company’s longtime dancer and company minister, John Vandervelde, introduced her to his son, Lindsay.
Kety Vandervelde likes to tease Lindsay that it was “love at first sight for him and it took a few more sights for me,” she said.
The two were married in 2017, the same year Vandervelde decided to leave her position as a trainee and her new in-laws moved to Grand Junction following John’s retirement after 30 years with Ballet Magnificat.
Last spring, Kety and Lindsay Vandervelde also moved to Grand Junction, where Kety became the children’s ministry director at River of Life Alliance Church and a faculty member at Absolute Dance, teaching ballet, contemporary and tap classes to students in both the recreational and preprofessional programs.
“I love kids and I feel super blessed to have both jobs” that use her gifts in different ways, she said.
“Kety has been a wonderful mentor for our students,” said Theresa Kahl, owner and instructor at Absolute Dance. “She has inspired them both as dancer and instructor.”
“I love how hardworking the kids are,” said Vandervelde, who praised her students for wanting to learn and applying corrections to become better dancers.
And while she was a little bit hesitant get back into her pointe shoes as the Dew Drop, “I love being able to dance with my students,” she said.
Besides, it’s good for young dancers both in “The Nutcracker” and in the audience to see that their teacher can actually dance, she said.