At first glance, Allison Kim y (yes, the "y" is lower-case), Emma Ginel Morales and Soren Sakadales are like millions of other kids: full of life but a little shy. A quick glimpse of their list of accomplishments, however, reveals they're wonderful dancers. In particular, they're Ballet Idaho students and cast members of the company's 2016 production of The Nutcracker, with five performances from Friday, Dec. 16 through Sunday, Dec. 18.
In alternating performances, Allison, a sixth-grader at Riverside Elementary School in Boise, and Emma, a seventh-grader at Eagle Middle School, are each playing Clara, the young girl who dreams the Christmas fantasy of a nutcracker that becomes a heroic prince. Soren, an eighth-grader at North Junior High School in Boise, portrays Clara's older brother, Fritz.
With only a few days before the curtain comes up on The Nutcracker, choreographed by Ballet Idaho Artistic Director Peter Anastos and accompanied by the Boise Philharmonic, the trio sat down to talk about their dreams of someday becoming professional dancers and what it's like bringing visions of sugar plums to life.
When did you begin dance lessons?
Emma: I was 3.
What a minute... what?
Emma: Yes, I started classes at Ballet Idaho when I was 3.
Can I assume some of your earliest memories are of dancing here at Ballet Idaho?
Emma: My mom took a lot of photographs so that helps me remember back then.
Soren: I started here only two years ago.
What led you here?
Soren: My friend and I had some private lessons and we went to an intensive called Winter Move, but my friend bailed on me because he thought it was all "girly." One of the teachers at Winter Move noticed me, talked to Ballet Idaho and now I'm here.
The three of you are now in the same class?
Allison: That's right, the level five class.
Level five sounds pretty impressive.
Allison: You must be 11 years old and at a certain skill level. It's the start of pre-professional.
Emma: It's every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, about two hours each. Plus, we take other classes.
Can I assume you've performed in other Ballet Idaho productions?
Emma: I was in The Nutcracker last year, plus Sleeping Beauty.
Soren: I was in The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty.
Allison: I was in The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Alice In Wonderland.
How intimidating is it to perform in front of so many people?
Allison: I don't concentrate on people watching me. I concentrate on what I'm doing.
Emma: I get a little nervous, but that's normal.
Soren: It's not as nerve-wracking as you might think. The lights are so bright that you can't see all the people out in the audience.
Allison and Emma, you're both playing Clara. Remind us of who she is.
Emma: This is my first time as Clara. I think she's curious and always moving.
Allison: I played Clara in last year's Nutcracker. She's creative, happy and, depending on the choreography, changing her moods all the time. She's less trouble than Fritz.
Soren: Yes, Fritz is mischievous. He's a lot of fun to play.
Talk to me about the importance of a dancer staying in shape.
Allison: Stretching. A lot of stretching. A do my splits and stretch my ankles, feet, every part of my body. You also have to make yourself strong with push-ups and crunches.
Emma: Plus, you don't want to stretch when you're not warm. You have to warm up first.
Soren: It's a bit like homework.
Dancers in general—and ballet dancers in particular—are often compared to elite athletes.
Soren: You really have to put a lot of time and hard work into what you do.
Emma: Not everyone thinks ballet is as hard as it actually is.
Do you want to do this for a living someday?
Emma: Me, too.
When a performance as big as The Nutcracker is over and everyone is cheering, you must love that.
Allison: I don't want people to think I'm perfect, because I'm not. But I love that people appreciate what we do.
Emma: I'm a bit exhilarated and a bit exhausted. You do feel a little important.
And there are the flowers at the curtain call.
Emma: That's right, the flowers.
Allison: That's nice.
Soren, would you like to get flowers after a performance?
Soren: A candy bar would be nice.