The New Albany Children's Ballet Theatre's annual production of The Nutcracker will feature two 12-year-old girls from New Albany and Gahanna in the leading role.
Abby Masturzo of New Albany and Amelia Scheetz of Gahanna will each dance as Clara in two of the four scheduled performances in December.
Tara Miller, director of the New Albany Children's Ballet Theatre, said 225 girls from central Ohio will perform in this year's production of The Nutcracker.
"We have children down to age 4 in it," Miller said. "It's very appealing to children who take dance."
Miller said the age of the performers and their professionalism has made the performance at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts an annual tradition and appealing to all ages.
"It's very different from other (performances) and is very rare," she said. "That's why it is so appealing to younger children."
Miller said ballet students younger than age 8 do not have to try out for parts.
Older students are cast in roles, with several trying out for the lead roles of Clara and the Sugar Plum fairy.
"It's something I really wanted," Masturzo said. "I was happy and excited when I got it (the part)."
"I've wanted to be Clara since I was in the first grade, when I started (dancing)," Scheetz said.
Scheetz said she started dancing at age 3 and Masturzo started at 2.
"I love the feeling when I'm dancing," Masturzo said.
Both girls said they learned a lot from the challenging role of Clara.
"Having to go to a lot of practices, you have to give up time with friends and doing activities you'd like but it's very worth it," Masturzo said. "It's difficult because there are a lot more practices you have to go to and a lot more scenes you have to learn."
For Scheetz, the combination of acting and dancing is a challenge.
"You have to really focus on the acting and starting to get the steps down," Scheetz said.
The girls will dance with experienced male dancers, which Miller said is a rare experience.
"We're very lucky to get really strong male roles," Miller said.
Sasha York of Omaha, Neb., will dance as the Nutcracker.
Both girls are interested in a career in dancing. Masturzo said she also would be interested in teaching ballet.
The New Albany Children's Ballet Theatre will perform The Nutcracker at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts, 100 W. Dublin-Granville Road in New Albany.
Ticket prices are $25, $20 and $15. They are available for purchase at mccoycenter.org.