Every year, thousands and thousands of 4 and 5 year olds don leotards and tutus and sway cutely if clumsily along in their first ballet classes. And for many of those tiny dancers, one of their first ballet dreams is to one day don the flowing gown and pointe shoes of Clara in that holiday ballet classic, The Nutcracker.
For one Prairie Village youth, that dream is a reality this year.
Eva Hill is one of three Kansas City Ballet dance students playing Clara in this year’s production of The Nutcracker at the Kauffman Center.
A 14-year-old eighth grader at Indian Hills Middle School, Hill has been dancing for a decade. And as she graduated from those beginner classes to more advanced study, her natural talent began to shine through. She made her first appearance in The Nutcracker five years ago as an angel, and performed as a solider and then a gingersnap the last two years.
But this year, Hill had reached the age and talent level to try for the central role. Competition for the spots was fierce. The dancers went through a three-hour audition that tested their abilities in both pointe and flat shoes.
“It’s a lot of girls with amazing talent all trying out for Clara,” Hill said.
A bit after that audition, Hill’s mother Tracy got an email from the ballet company letting her know that Eva had earned the right to play Clara — news that sent excitement through the Hill house.
“It’s never expected,” Tracy said.
Eva has now made five performances at the Kauffman Center, and said she’s still getting used to the feeling of being center stage.
“Back stage, sometimes my stomach starts to feel a little weird just getting nervous. But all of that goes away when you step on stage.”
As for her mother, watching her daughter as Clara comes with a wonderful wave of emotions.
“It’s like watching your heart run around up there on stage,” Tracy said. “Everbody describes parenthood like that. But it really is one of those moments.”
Today happens to be Eva’s birthday. And while she won’t be performing, there wasn’t much doubt how she wanted to celebrate.
“I’m going to watch the Nutcracker,” she said.