(respectively) write the score for, orchestrate and choreograph the
Dickens story for Ballet Montmarte, of which Stela is the artistic
The Dickens ballet came about when Stela asked George, a rock musician
and paralegal, to write music based on the story.
"They used to do the 'Nutcracker' every year," said George, who
watched his niece, then a principal dancer, perform with the ballet. "I
got sick of it."
Stela, who grew up in communist Romania, discovered Charles Dickens'
classic Christmas tale when George's sister, Agi, gave her a copy of the
"We weren't allowed to read about Christmas [in Romania]," Stela said.
"This story became special to me."
Brent became involved after meeting George at a party -- but not just
"George and I first met on Christmas Eve six years ago," Brent said.
"He said he had written this ballet and asked me to listen to the tape."
Brent, a former teacher, liked what he heard. After seeing Stela's
work with Ballet Montmarte, he decided to help out. Brent took George's
music and orchestrated it.
Brent really pushed the ballet through, said Stela and George.
"When [Brent] said let's produce this ballet, I said, 'We need money;
we need this; we need that,' " Stela said. "He was the one who said 'Do
"It's not easy," Brent said. "It's been a lot of blood, sweat and
But the end result has pleased all three and three years of audiences.
"George and I were worried the year it debuted," Brent said.
But after hearing people come out of the performance whistling the
music, the worry dissipated.
George knew it was something special when friends from bars he played
came to see the performance and loved it.
"It touched them on some level," he said.
Stela said doing such a male-oriented ballet -- between Scrooge, Bob
Cratchit and other roles there are eight male parts -- has been a
challenge. But even more challenging has been finding ballet dancers who
"They need to be complete artists, not just dancers," Stela said.