For thousands of young ballerinas, it’s the ultimate Christmas dream: to dance the role of Clara in The Nutcracker. This year, two of the region’s most gifted teens will realize that dream when they share the role in State Street Ballet’s annual production.
Lola Crist and Sarah Block are 13 years old — just about the age of Clara. They’re both members of State Street Ballet Young Dancers — a year-round pre-professional training program. And this weekend they’ll appear onstage at the Granada Theatre in State Street Ballet’s most recent rendition of the classic ballet, featuring choreography by Rodney Gustafson, a set designed in Russia, new costumes, and the original Tchaikovsky score performed by Opera San Luis Obispo Orchestra.
For Block, dancing and dreaming are closely related. “When I’m dancing, I can just think about dancing and not anything else,” the La Colina student explained. “It’s a place where I can go and kind of escape.” Block will dance the role of Clara in the Saturday matinee and evening productions.
“I like being the main part because you can add a lot of your own special touches, and it doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else,” she added.
Crist, who will play Clara in the Sunday matinee, echoed Block’s enthusiasm. “I’ve always dreamed of playing that role ever since I was little and I first saw The Nutcracker,” she said. Though Crist estimates she dances about 35 hours a week, she doesn’t seem to tire of it. Like Block, she hopes to one day join a professional ballet company and tour the world.
With dreams this big, Block and Crist are well prepared to play the role of one of ballet’s best-known dreamers. Clara’s subconscious visions of life-size toys, monstrous mice, and sugar-plum fairies have taken on such iconic power; it’s hard to imagine Christmas without them.
State Street Ballet presents The Nutcracker at the Granada Theatre, Saturday, December 21, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 22, at 2 p.m. Call (805) 899-2222 or visit granadasb.org.