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Dreams come true: Ballerinas dance Sacramento Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’

December 1, 2017 GMT

Many young performers say they want to dance in a professional dance company when they grow up, but 25 Yuba-Sutter youths don’t have to wait that long. The little ballerinas and danseurs landed children’s roles in the Sacramento Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.”

Every year, hundreds of children from the Sacramento region are invited to try out for novice roles in the ballet. Children as young as 4 years old, with some dance training, audition for roles. This year’s audition results were released in late September; since then, the 25 local kids who made the cut have been hard at work rehearsing for opening night.

“I was really, really excited and we went to go get ice cream after (auditions),” said Juliana Roffier, 8, a dancer performing as a Mother Ginger child in the ballet. “I just like being up on stage; I’ve been dancing for six years.”

For some of the dancers, performing in “The Nutcracker” is a dream come true. Many of the kids remember their parents taking them to see the holiday ballet production when they were little, and how watching the professionals inspired them to start taking dance classes.

“I saw it when I was little and I thought it was interesting,” said Aubree Wing, 9, a dancer performing as a Sugar Plum attendant in the ballet. “I like dancing a lot, I’ve been doing it since I was 4.”

Although the kids have a while before they have to decide what they want to be when they grow up, dance instructors said participating in “The Nutcracker” gives young dancers a taste of what it’s like to be a professional performer.

“It’s great professional experience,” said Amanda Davis, a dance teacher at Jacque’s Dance Expressions. “Even if they do recitals with their studio, it’s always going to be different when they work with a company. I always see an increase in caliber in my students that participate; they learn what they need to do and grow to be better dancers, especially if they’re thinking about doing it professionally.”

All 25 Yuba-Sutter dancers report to Sacramento every other weekend for rehearsals. As opening night draws near, the kids said they’re starting to feel a mixture of excitement and nerves.

“It’s kind of scary, thinking about being up on stage in front of thousands and thousands of people watching,” Juliana said. “But I’m excited, too.”

Parents of the dancers are full of apprehension about opening night; it will be the first time they see their children perform in “The Nutcracker,” since parents weren’t allowed to watch rehearsals.

“It’s pretty exciting; we put her in classes when she was 2, and now she’s dancing with all the big girls,” said Chase Roffier, Juliana’s father.

Sacramento Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” opens on Dec. 9, and runs throughout the month. For performance and ticket information, visit sacballet.org.

“If you know any of the kids contact their parents and go out and see them; it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity for these kids,” Davis said.

Jacque’s Dance Expressions:

Rowan Bailey – Soldier

Madeline Baldez – Party Girl

Sienna Borrasso – Cherub

Brenna Campbell – Arabian Attendant

Khloe Coelho – Mother Ginger Child

Makenna Deneef – Cherub

Emily Dykes - Chinese Attendant

Cooper Garcia-Floyd – Cook

Kate Griffin – Sugar Plum Fairy Assistant

Olivia Guth ­– Clara

Jordyn Jones – Mother Ginger Child

Nikki Martin – Candy Cane

Emily Monahan – Angel

Alaina Newton – Sugar Plum Fairy Assistant

Carley Rockenstein – Cherub

Raegan Rockenstein – Cherub

Reagan Witt – Prologue Girl

Felicity Yetter ­– Reindeer

Studio B:

Audrey Davis – Chinese

Olivia Finnon – Cook

Cooper Garcia-Floyd – Cook

Grace Perry–- Angel

Eva Scott – Reindeer

Synergy Dance:

Aubree Wing – Mother Ginger child

Juliana Roffier – Cherub

Sophia Stanley – Sugar Plum attendant

Aubree Wing – Sugar Plum attendant