Camilla Srinarayana of Summerlin was 3 when she started dancing. At 8, she took the stage in front of almost 2,000 people in the Nevada Ballet Theatre’s production of “Sleeping Beauty” at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
Now 10, the Nevada Ballet Theatre student in training is one of about 30 grade-schoolers performing in “The Nutcracker” through Dec. 24 at The Smith Center. The annual event hosted by the Nevada Ballet Theatre features 12 performances over three weeks.
“It’s really thrilling when you get on that stage,” Camilla said. “You’re not yourself, yet you’re still expressing what you feel — channeling everything you’re thinking into your character.”
Students get a chance to dance alongside company members, something 12-year-old Julian Mirkia of Summerlin doesn’t take for granted.
“I’ve been dancing for a year,” said Julian, who plays Fritz in the production. “I like the feeling of expression without words and through movement. Boys don’t usually do dance, so it’s really taught me to express myself and it’s let me have more friends. I feel a lot lighter.”
Julian picked up dancing after his 10-year-old sister Sarah started. He took one class and couldn’t stop, he said. He said he practices up to three hours a day on weekdays, and about 14 hours combined on weekends.
“It’s sort of hard balancing homework with all this dance because other than ‘The Nutcracker,’ I have competition and practice and other actual classes. It’s hard, but it’s doable,” said Julian, who attends Rogich Middle School. “Sometimes I stay up a little longer than planned, but it’s worth it.”
The two students have worked with veteran company member Krista Baker to prepare. Baker has worked with Nevada Ballet Theatre since she was 17.
“They’re a fantastic cast of kids,” said Baker, of Summerlin. “They are really on top of it. We’ve been rehearsing since the beginning of September, and they’ve progressed at a very fast rate.”
Baker said she has danced in “The Nutracker” since she joined the Nevada Ballet Theatre in 2005. She takes pride in coaching the students to fulfill their potential, she said.
“Being on scene with them, being able to share the stage with them — I’m kind of almost reliving the joy of ‘The Nutcracker’ through their eyes.”
If you go
What: Nevada Ballet Theatre performance of “The Nutcracker”
Where: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 61 Symphony Park Ave.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 20-22, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15-16 and Dec. 22-24
Tickets: $29-$179. Some performances feature a full orchestra.