Orlando Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker,” which runs Dec. 8 to 11, features five alternating girls in the famous role of Clara
DR. PHILLIPS For many young ballerinas, they dream of one day dancing as Clara in “The Nutcracker.”
This Christmas season, that dream came true for two Dr. Phillips ballerinas with the Orlando Ballet. Twelve-year-old Jaslyn Peralta and 14-year-old Olivia Cassady were chosen to dance as Clara in the Orlando Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker” this weekend at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
“I thought I would be an understudy,” said Peralta. “But when I saw I was Clara, I was so happy and excited and ready to get started.”
Although Peralta was given the role immediately, Cassady initially was assigned to be an understudy for the role of Clara. But that didn’t last long.
“I was so excited,” Cassady said about finding out she would be dancing as Clara in the show.
Although dancing as Clara is a new experience for both girls, they have danced in “The Nutcracker” for many years.
“It’s a tradition,” Cassady said about dancing in the Christmas classic. “You never want to skip it.”
In previous shows, they performed as mice, soldiers, Chinese dancers, Arabian dancers and friends at the Christmas party. But none of these roles compares to the challenge of being Clara.
“In the whole show, you have to do everything on pointe,” Peralta said, referring to the ballet technique of dancing on your toes.
And instead of being on stage for only a few minutes in a smaller role, the girls will spend nearly the entire show in the spotlight - and some of the scenes completely on their own.
“There so much acting going on on stage,” Cassady said. “You’re doing different stages of emotions.”
To prepare for the role, the girls have attended numerous rehearsals to make sure they know each and every step of the famous ballet.
“There are lots of foot movements,” Cassady said.
Are they nervous?
“Definitely!” both girls said at the same time, laughing.
When the nerves start to kick in, they both said they take a minute to zone out and take their mind off the pressure and hundreds of pairs of eyes watching in the audience.
“I go through Clara’s difference faces of acting (in my head),” Cassady said.
Despite their nerves, neither girl is a stranger to the dance studio. Peralta began dancing when she was 8 and Cassady when she was 3. Both have been dancing with the Orlando Ballet for several years.
Both girls will be dancing as Clara on Sunday. Cassady will perform during the 1 p.m. show, and Peralta will perform during the 6:30 p.m. show.
The girls said they are most looking forward to the battle scene between the soldiers and mice.
“It’s so intense,” Cassady said. “It’s the coolest part.”
And their favorite costume?
Clara’s nightgown. It’s so pretty and flow-y, they both said.
Now that they’ve both danced as Clara, they have their sights set on new goals: Dancing as the Sugar Plum Fairy or the Snow Queen.
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].