Whether it is by the San Francisco Ballet or one produced by a local dance company, the Nutcracker seems to bring out the essence of the Christmas spirit. In these local Nutcracker productions, two LAHS dancers starred as the famous sugar plum fairy: senior Freja Mickos and junior Emily McKinney.
Freja has been dancing ballet for 10 years, starting from a young age in Finland. Freja performed in her first ballet at the age of eight, and has taken part in the Nutcracker performance every year since. This year marked the first and last time she performed as the sugar plum fairy.
“I think what mainly attracts me to this show every year is that it’s such a rich and diverse story with an incredible amount of characters and dancers,” Freja said. “Each year that I perform it I have three or four new parts that I get to learn, which makes it really interesting and exciting each time we have the shows.”
As a senior and one of the oldest dancers in the Pacific Ballet Academy, Freja performed in her last show on November 25. Though she knew her Nutcracker performances would soon draw to an end, Freja had mixed emotions once she finished her final dance.
“It was honestly the most emotional I have ever been on stage,” Freja said. “I’ve always thought that I would be happy and relieved to be done with rehearsals… but I was sobbing after the last curtain fell.”
It was a bittersweet moment for Freja. After working for countless hours toward the final moment when the curtains closed, she had been extremely proud of her accomplishments, yet sad it was over. Though ballet dancing will no longer continue to be a large part of her life, Freja will continue to search for dance programs or college classes to continue to fulfill her passion for dancing in the future.
Another dancer following a similar path as Freja, but starring in San Jose Youth Ballet is Emily. After exposing herself to many styles of dance including tap, jazz, lyrical and modern, Emily began to change her focus to ballet at the age of 10 to follow her main interest. Since she began her ballet career, she has performed in the Nutcracker for six years, each of which has been a memorable experience.
“[The reason I am attracted to the Nutcracker is] because it’s the most well known ballet story to the non-dancer audience,” Emily said. “Also, the story is understandable for all audiences.”
A member of the Dance Theater International company, Emily performs in the annual Nutcracker show. In the San Jose youth production, she plays the role of a sugar plum fairy as well as the roles of Arabian, snow and flower dancers. The dance company began to rehearse in August, and showcases its ballet production in December. Its last performance is on December 9; other shows in coming months include Swan Lake.
Ballet has continued to play a large part in Emily’s life. She has grown up with the strict discipline and commitment to ballet and over the course of her dancing career, has been given many memorable opportunities.
“Well, [ballet] has been life-changing [for me],” Emily said. “I’ve gotten wonderful training and great experiences. It has given me the opportunity to dance with professional ballet dancers from well known companies like San Francisco Ballet.”