Dancer will help bring magic to stageShe’ll be dancing 30 hours a week in the last weeks of rehearsals before “The Nutcracker” opens to the public. But 13-year-old Sara Ezzell of Woodbury is concerned about one thing and one thing only.
By: Louise Ernewein, Woodbury Bulletin
She’ll be dancing 30 hours a week in the last weeks of rehearsals before “The Nutcracker” opens to the public.
But 13-year-old Sara Ezzell, who lives on Queens Drive in Woodbury and will be dancing the lead role of Clara in the Ballet Minnesota production in December, is concerned about one thing and one thing only.
“Before I tell you how much I practice, you need to understand,” she said, adding that people who do not understand frequently mutter comments about child abuse when they hear her rehearsal schedule.
“It’s not child abuse. People need to understand; it’s my choice. I love it and I don’t mind. I’m healthy. It’s all good.”
Ezzell, an eighth-grader at the Math and Science Academy in Woodbury, has been dancing with the Classical Ballet Academy since she was five.
In fact, she’s been dancing in the annual Ballet Minnesota productions of “The Nutcracker” since she was five, too, working her way up the parts (there’s a distinct hierarchy depending on the class a student is in) from the “little itsy bitsy mouse” through Angel, War Soldier, German Doll and Porcelain Doll to this year’s pinnacle of Clara.
“Every day, we would rush to the board and text each other with any news,” said Ezzell recalling the students’ mad rush to scan the cast list to find out who had won the coveted prize of dancing the part of Clara.
“When I rushed in there [and saw my name], I fell over from the surprise. I wouldn’t say I fainted, but I tend not to catch myself. One of my friends scooped me up.”
It’s when those cast lists go up that Ezzell’s practice schedules start to get a little crazy.
Regularly, she has 15 hours of dance classes a week. Once rehearsals for a production get into full swing, her dance commitments increase to 27 hours a week.
And during Thanksgiving week, Ezzell said she expected to be dancing a massive 35 hours in preparation for December’s performances of “The Nutcracker.”
Over the weeks of rehearsals, Ezzell has come a long way from that first, heart-stopping moment that she saw her name next to “Clara” on the cast list.
The hours of dancing practice have helped her lose those nerves she felt at the prospect of dancing a part larger than anything she had even contemplated before.
“It was a big loadful to think about,” she said. “It’s a lot more than I have ever done before.
“Clara is in all the scenes and alone in a lot of them. It’s a different type of role, and that’s why I was spooked. I wasn’t sure if I was capable.”
Fortunately for Ezzell, she has a supportive and understanding mother, as well as teachers who gave her the confidence that she was equal to the part.
Keziban Ezzell — a former scientist for NASA — has been through the rehearsal schedules a number of times before with her eldest daughter, Grace, who also danced ballet until the age of 15.
Sara Ezzell says dancing is her passion and is seriously considering a career as a ballerina.
In the meantime, there’s a prospect of a breather after the performance schedule is finished in late December.
So what’s she planning to do with all that spare time before the next production gets underway?
“After ‘Nutcracker,’ I’m going to join the Democrats Club at school,” Ezzell said thoughtfully. “I’m quite political.”
“The Nutcracker” will be performed at the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, on Dec. 19 (7:30 p.m.), Dec. 20 (2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) and Dec. 21 (2 p.m.).
To book tickets, priced $15-$40, through Ticketmaster, call (612) 690-6700.
A number of other young dancers from Woodbury will also be dancing in the Ballet Minnesota production of “The Nutcracker.”
They include Jordyn Brown, Erin Chase, Stella Chen, Emily Coad, Noah Connors, Emma Connors, Sonia Franzen, Anna Hildebrandt, Greta Holly, Henry Holly, Madison Knott, Aleksandra Kupp, Hannah Lipps, Kerstin Lisowski, Lauren Lisowski, Natalie Meuers, Katlyn Newman, Molly Roche, Megan Simon, Laura Theiss, Julia Theiss, Linzie Wildenauer, Alyssa Wildenauer, Linnea Yacovella
Source: Ballet Minnesota