The Children of Nutcracker

Each year, 175 students from the San Francisco Ballet School perform onstage in Nutcracker. From the smallest Act II ladybugs to the steadfast soldiers of the Battle Scene, all the children work hard learning their steps and getting into character. They rehearse from September–December, and can be seen onstage in all the performances throughout the holiday season.

In 2015, we sat down with four young dancers in the production to get an idea of what it takes to train with the SF Ballet School and perform onstage with the Company.

Marcello Marca: I am 12 years old and am in Level 4. This is my third year performing in Nutcracker and my first year performing the role of Fritz, Clara’s brother.

Isabella Marca: I am 14 years old and in Level 5. This is my fourth Nutcracker. I will be a Dragonfly in the opening of Act II.

Max Behrman-Rosenberg: I am 10 years old. I am in Level 2, and this is my second year performing in Nutcracker. I will be a Party Boy again this year.

Jessica Ousterhout: I am 15 years old. I am in Level 6 and will be a Mouse onstage this year. This is my seventh year performing in Nutcracker. I’ve been a Clown, Butterfly, Soldier, Dragonfly, and Mouse.

What is your favorite part about being involved with SF Ballet’s Nutcracker?

Jessica: My favorite thing about being involved is the chance to perform with the Company. I love getting the experience to perform onstage in front of a big audience. The story of Nutcracker is really special. I love that it’s about Clara’s imagination. It’s really fun to portray a character and be someone else onstage.

Marcello: My favorite thing about being in Nutcracker is getting to be backstage with all the dancers. I also love to act and am especially excited this year because Fritz kind of gets to steal the show.

Isabella: My favorite part is seeing all the principals and Company dancers backstage, in costume and makeup. It’s really like a dream come true. As a little kid I always wanted to be a part of this production. I am so thankful I get to perform with the Company.

Max: I love the experience of seeing everyone dancing from backstage. It makes me feel like I am a part of the dancers’ normal life at ballet.

SF Ballet School students in Tomasson's Nutcracker. (© Erik Tomasson)

What is your dream Nutcracker role?

Marcello: My dream role would be the Nutcracker Prince. All the jumping and turns look like a lot of fun.

Jessica: My dream Nutcracker role would be to dance older Clara, which in this production is the Grand Pas De Deux. It’s technical and has very difficult steps that I would love to be able to do.

Isabella: I love the costumes and partnering of the Act II Arabian dancer. The steps require a lot of experience and good technique, but the SF Ballet dancers make it all look so easy.

What is the best part about training at the SF Ballet School?

Isabella: Just saying that I train at the SF Ballet School is a huge honor. We work so hard in class everyday. To get to see the Company and Trainees work shows us what we are working for in our future.

Jessica: Training at the SF Ballet School is special because it’s really great to be connected to the Company. It gives us perspective as students.

Max: It’s like a family. Everyone is kind and engaging. It can be strict sometimes, but it’s because they want the best for you. Everyone should give it a try!

Why do you dance?

Max: Dance has been in my body since I was born. My body is active, and I always want to move and dance. I seriously can’t sit still unless I’m watching dance! Stepping onto the stage at the Opera House is a dream come true. I definitely want to dance for SF Ballet someday.

Isabella: I choose to dance because ballet has always been more than just an activity for me. I knew from the beginning of my training that I wanted to dedicate my life to ballet. Training in ballet requires thought, dedication, and determination that helps with school and in my daily life. If I’m having a bad day, ballet brightens my mood. Every moment I’ve dedicated to dance has been worth it.

Jessica: Ballet is a language to express yourself. It allows me to express my own emotions and self through movement. It’s what I really love to do. All this hard work pays off in the end.

Explore: The Holiday Party All Young Dancers Want to Attend

As one of SF Ballet School's students cast in the Company's production of Nutcracker, Level 3 student Lily Peta tells us about one of her favorite moments onstage during the Party Scene. 

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Explore: Nutcracker Fun Facts

Did you know that the Act I party scene doll’s tutu weighs 18 pounds, the heaviest costume worn by a dancer in the ballet? 

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