Nashville Ballet’s annual Nashville’s Nutcracker production, coming to TPAC Dec. 9 – 24, is all about traditions — such as the unique-to-Nashville storyline, the live music by the Nashville Symphony and, of course, a talented youth cast made up of local students!
This year, more than 100 young dancers auditioned and spent eight weeks rehearsing in the studio with professionals in preparation to join Nashville Ballet Company dancers on stage for the final performances. Check out the full youth cast here!
Four of them — Margaret Rick, Anna Caroline Henry, AJ Gift and Anna Sloan — will have standout roles as “Clara.” Check out our exclusive Q&A with them below:
- MR: Margaret Rick
- ACH: Anna Caroline Henry
- AG: AJ Gift
- AS: Anna Sloan
How long have you been dancing and why do you love it?
MR: I started dancing at 3 years old, so it’s been almost eleven years. There are so many reasons why I love ballet. I actually enjoy the discipline of the artform. It strengthens my mind and body, teaches me to be responsible, and perfects my technique. I also love performing on the stage and expressing my emotions through graceful movements.
ACH: I have been dancing since I was 3, so for ten years. I love it because I think it’s so cool to translate music into beautiful movement.
AG: I started dancing when I was 4, so I’ve been dancing for 12 years. I love to dance because it helps me express my emotions in an artistic way.
AS: I’ve been dancing since I was 3, but it’s my 8th year of classical ballet training. I love it because it stretches and challenges me. It makes me feel physically and mentally stronger.
What was your reaction when you first found out that you had been cast as Clara?
MR: Well, I found out while I was still at school. I think I was in shock and could not stop staring at my phone inside of my locker! I was very proud, because being Clara had been a lifelong dream of mine. When I first saw Nashville Ballet’s Nutcracker at age three, my face lit up to see the beautiful dancers and set on the huge TPAC stage. It was magical, and right then I set a goal to be Clara one day.
ACH: I was ecstatic. This is definitely a dream come true. Every little girl wants to be Clara in the nutcracker and I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity.
AG: My reaction to being cast as Clara was surprise and excitement.
AS: I was speechless! Overwhelmed and excited. I have always dreamed about dancing the role of Clara and I’m just so grateful for this opportunity.
What part of the performance are you most looking forward to?
MR: I am most excited to be on stage for the entire show and perform the finale dance with the Nashville Ballet Company.
ACH: I am most looking forward to watching the Christmas tree grow before the battle scene. The music in that moment is so exhilarating, I can’t wait to perform it.
AG: The part of the performance I am looking forward to the most is dancing with the professionals.
AS: I look forward to dancing with the Nashville Ballet company members. It’s exciting to get to dance with them and be part of one of their productions.
Who is your favorite character in the performance?
MR: My favorite character in the performance is the Snow Queen. She has one of the hardest dances in Nashville’s Nutcracker, and I admire her elegance while dancing in the snow. It is breathtaking!
ACH: My favorite character is Mother Ginger. She is so funny to watch and adds an extra layer of fun to that section.
AG: It’s a tie between the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Snake Charmer.
AS: Mother Ginger! I love the audience reaction during her dance. And of course, the Sugar Plum Fairy!
Why do you think people should come see Nashville’s Nutcracker?
MR: This show changed my life. I want little girls and boys to be inspired like I was, dream big, and expand their imagination. Anything is possible when the lights go up, and the curtain opens.
ACH: It’s is a magical show to watch. The dancing is beautiful and the sets and costumes, along with Tchaikovsky’s score make for a wonderful holiday tradition.
AG: I think people should come see the show because it is a great story to watch and watching the many talented dancers is very entertaining!
AS: It will put you in the holiday spirit! It’s just magical. My whole family loves it, from my little brother all the way up to my grandparents. It’s a show that is fun for everyone!
Tickets to Nashville’s Nutcracker at TPAC’s Jackson Hall start at $38. Get them here.