Antoinette Klimek, formerly of Fort Smith was recently chosen to portray the celebrated Sugar Plum Fairy in Western Arkansas Ballet’s 28th production of The Nutcracker. Ms. Klimek is the daughter of Robert & Jessica Klimek and is currently a freelance dancer, performer, and instructor in Phoenix, Ariz. This year’s production will be December 14th & 15th at Arkansas Best Performing Arts Center in Fort Smith, Ark., with performance times of 7:30 PM on Saturday and 2:30 PM on Sunday.

Klimek is a graduate of Southside High School class of 2001 and has many fond memories of her high school years in Fort Smith. She began dancing at age 10 by taking tap, jazz, and ballet at a small studio called the Bellevue Dance Academy in Bellevue, NE. She started dancing because a close friend wanted to take classes and asked Antoinette to join her. She had taken martial arts classes previously and thought of ballet as overly feminine and dainty; however, she found dance to be like martial arts performed to music and loved that. At age 15, Antoinette’s family moved to Arkansas and she joined the ranks of Western Arkansas Ballet’s Pre-Professional Company for the remainder of high school.

As a young dancer, Ms. Klimek performed with Ballet Omaha II as well as Western Arkansas Ballet, and appeared in Dayton Ballet′s The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet. She received an academic scholarship to study at the University of Chicago, where she joined University Ballet of Chicago for six seasons. She later joined the staff of Chicago’s ARCC Ballet and Dance, where she worked as an instructor, choreographer, production manager, and dance librarian.

In addition to teaching, Antoinette is an active freelance professional performer. Alongside independent projects, she has danced with Geiger Dance Project, Elements Contemporary Ballet, Jaxon Movement Arts, and as a guest artist with Ballet North and Midwest Ballet Theatre. Her favorite featured roles include the title role of Giselle, Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, and Dulcinea and Mercedes in Don Quixote. She recently moved to the Phoenix area, where she continues to perform, teach, and train.

Klimek will be joined by her fiancé, Arion Tanabe, dancing the role of Cavalier. Arion and Antoinette met in 2008 as guest artists for a production of Sleeping Beauty. Although not partnered together in the production, they became good friends immediately. They have since danced several small pas de deux together, despite their less than ideal height differences, and attribute their strong partnering skills to their ability to communicate well. Antoinette says "We are not like those couples who can’t help but get angry when they work together. We feel free to express ourselves and our ideas with no judgment from the other person, so we can get a lot accomplished."

Ms. Klimek is very grateful to reprise the role of Sugar Plum Fairy, which she last danced at the age of sixteen with Western Arkansas Ballet.

Tickets are available for purchase at for $20 and $25. Student ticket prices (with a valid student ID) are available for $15. Please call for more information 479.785.0152.