Dancing “The Nutcracker”

Noelle Hanson

Grade: Sophomore

Roles: Spanish and Mirliton

School: Western Ballet

Years of ballet: 8

Approx. hours of ballet per week: 19

Background: Gymnastics and soccer

Dream Role: Sugar Plum Fairy

“Ballet is a way to express myself because I’m not very good with words or talking about my emotions, so ballet is an outlet, and I also love performing and being on stage. Being a ballerina takes a lot of time and a lot of work. You have to be pretty thick skinned because you look at yourself for long hours and you get a lot of harsh feedback.”


Lisa Deng

Grade: Junior

Roles: Sugar Plum Fairy & Snow Queen

School: Dance Connection

Years of ballet: 6

Approx. hours of ballet per week: 12

Background: 5 years team gymnastics

Goal: Find a company in college to keep up her technique

“This year I got all my dream roles. Sugar Plum is such a hard variation, but you just feel like a princess doing it. You feel like you’re a different person. For the Snow Queen, when the snow is falling down, everything just seems so magical. I love both roles. I love ballet because there’s such a structure to it. Because there’s a specific bar of excellence that you want to reach, it keeps you motivated, and you want to keep pushing yourself towards this one goal. Ballet is definitely a sport because it’s very physical and it’s very tiring. In fact, in a show, dancers can dance for the equivalent of seven miles. It’s also an art form because of the technique. You have to have artistry in it, and you’re physically suffering but you have to put on a happy face and pull through it.”


Teagan Toomre

Grade: Sophomore

Roles: Maid, Flower, and Chinese

School: Dance Connection

Years of ballet: 5

Approx. hours of ballet per week: 20

Background: Gymnastics

Dream Role: Arabian or Russian soloist

“[Ballet] has definitely shaped my work ethic. I don’t think I would nearly be as driven at school if I didn’t grow up doing ballet. I would say the hardest part is sacrificing just the everyday things that a lot of high schoolers do. We have to miss school dances for shows and rehearsals and we can’t hang out with friends a lot of the time because of that. And also the hardest part is the physical pain. Pointe shoes hurt so bad that it’s hard to convince yourself that it doesn’t hurt. But you kind of have to do that, or else you are not going to dance your best. I wish people would understand how hard ballet is and not bully little boys who want to do ballet. So many boys quit dancing because they get bullied and teased for it, and I just wish that other kids would understand it’s not an easy thing to do.”


Mika Ng

Grade: Freshman

Roles: Russian Soloist, Spanish Soloist, Flower and Snow

School: Dance Connection

Years of ballet: 8

Approx. hours of ballet per week: 13

Background: First solo year in the Nutcracker

Goals: Continue to get solo dances, and take classes after high school for enjoyment
“I might take classes [in the future], but not competitively. I don’t want to be a principal ballerina. It is tough. You have a lot of teachers, and they expect a lot from you. It really helped me improve my pointe work. There’s so many different people, and so many different ages. There’s such a wide range of people — from kindergarteners to high school seniors. Everyone at Dance Connection is dancing because it’s something that they like to do. We’re able to tell a story with our dance while [continuing to] improve.”