“We have a tradition here when it comes to the role of Clara,” Barbara Mullen said during an interview at the New England Dance Ensemble Londonderry studio.
Mullen, the company’s artistic director, sat with 12-year-old Victoria Indelicato of Windham and 13-year-old Audrey Severn of Londonderry, two of the three Claras who will be performing in the company’s rendition of The Nutcracker this November. Both were petite, blonde and absolutely giddy.
“I phone their parents about an hour before they come home from school. They [the students] don’t know anything about this,” Mullen said. “We set a specific time, maybe 3:20 p.m., when they get off the school bus, and I tell their parents to have cameras ready so they can get the girls’ reaction.”
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, is this actually happening? I was shaking. I had no idea what to say,” Severn said. “My mom was taking pictures, but I had no expression.”
Snagging the role of Clara is a big deal. She’s the silent narrator of the prestigious ballet, and she’s in every scene with every dancer, performing challenging leaps, jumps, turns and twirls at center stage.
“You have to take audiences through the entire story. You are the vehicle who takes them along the way, and they see the whole story from your point of view,” Severn said.
Indelicato had a similar reaction when she got the call.
“When she told me I’d be Clara, I was speechless. I think I actually stopped talking for a few minutes,” Indelicato said. “I couldn’t think of anything to say because it was, like, just so incredible.”
The third call went to 13-year-old Sophia Coakley of Dracut. Three Claras for three performances.
The girls didn’t know it at the time, but this is going to be a spectacular year for NEDE’s The Nutcracker. Just a few weeks ago, the girls got word that they’d perform alongside the Tom Brady of ballerinas. Misty Copeland, known to non-dancers as a judge from So You Think You Can Dance and the American Ballet Theatre soloist featured in Under Armour’s viral video ad, will be NEDE’s 2014 Sugar Plum Fairy. She’ll be dancing alongside three other ABT members, including Sterling Baca, who returns to perform as Cavalier; Catherine Hurlin as the Snow Queen/Arabian; and Sungwoo Han as the Snow King/Arabian.
NEDE has worked hard in its nearly 30 years to build a network of contacts within ABT; its mission is to combine the talents of local pre-professional dancers with professionals from national and international companies. Every year it brings well-established artists, but even Misty Copeland, Mullen said, is a little larger than life for most people.
The performances happen at the Windham High School Auditorium, twice on Saturday, Nov. 29, and then again Sunday, Nov. 30. Audience members nearly always dress up, and tickets often sell out.
As seen in the November 20, 2014 issue of the Hippo.