Anne Wash started preparing for Central Virginia Dance Academy’s presentation of The Nutcracker this summer. Rehearsals began before the school opened its regular session this fall.
“It’s definitely all-consuming but I love it,” Wash says of the annul production. “It’s something I did growing up.”
Wash danced in the production through college and later with the Charleston Ballet Theatre in South Carolina. She believes performing in the show helps students learn important skills. “It’s a good starter ballet for children,” she says. “They are becoming more comfortable on stage and they get to work on their stage presence. You have to learn how to manage costume malfunctions and quick changes. These are things you can’t learn without this type of experience.”
The school has been presenting a full-length production of The Nutcracker at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen for the past four years. Students dance all of the roles in the production. “Some of our male dancers are alumni,” Wash says.
This year’s production features over seventy students. Students that want to dance in a featured role must audition. “Our little ones don’t have to audition,” Wash says.
This year, fifty students auditioned for the role of Clara but only four were chosen to split the part between shows. “It would be very taxing on them to do six shows in a row,” Wash says, explaining why she casts four Claras. “We also have four because we want to give our dancers more opportunity. The ones chosen have to have a really strong classical ballet technique as well as strong facial expressions and acting ability.”
Thirteen-year-old Taylor Watson is one of this year’s Claras. “This is my second year playing Clara,” she says. “I’m very privileged to be chosen for a second year.”
She started dancing in the show when she was 8 years old. “I was a candy cane. It was one of my favorite parts. It’s high energy and it’s fun,” she says.
Last year when she landed the part of Clara she was “was over the moon. I was speechless,” she says. “It was one of the best moments of my life.”
One of her favorite moments from the show was dancing with the Nutcracker prince. “I had never partnered with anyone before,” she says. “It was so much fun to do. It was like I was in another world.”
Wash is thrilled that more and more boys are enrolling in classes each year. “I think it’s wonderful,” she says. “We will have some younger boys in the production as well as the older boys.”
Watson plans on taking what she learned last year and “building off of the mistakes so I can improve,” she says.
One day, she adds, she would like to own her own dance studio “so I can inspire others like Miss Anne has inspired me.”
To get tickets and show schedules for Central Virginia Dance Academy’s presentation of The Nutcracker go to www.centralvadance.com.