The Nutcracker ballet has been a longtime tradition in Kyla Wilson's life—the 10-year-old has either watched or danced in it every year since she was three, when her sister, Shayla, started ballet. The dancing bug hit Wilson hard, and now the two of them dance at the Central Oregon School of Ballet.
This year, Wilson will experience the performance in an extra-special way: dancing in her dream role, as Clara.
"I am really, really excited and looking forward to it!" she exclaims.
In the past, the role of Clara was always played by a girl in a particular age class, and Wilson had moved into the next class and thought she had missed her chance. This year, though, the directors of COSB, Joshua D. Deininger and Elizabeth Voiles, decided to switch things up and opened up the role of Clara to dancers outside of the traditional age.
"Our teachers have been watching us the past couple of years to see our strengths and how we've improved and that's one of the reasons they wanted me to be Clara," Wilson says. "I wouldn't have had a second chance to be Clara without them."
Just because it's her dream role doesn't mean this will be easy for Wilson. The choreography is different this year, so even though she has spent years watching Clara dance, she has many new moves to learn.
"There are some parts where I dance with the party children, and we have to be in sync, so if I did something wrong they would have to do it too," she explains. "It's a lot of pressure, especially since I sometimes need to be in sync with the older kids dancing too."
In a ballet performance, there is no dialogue, so the costumes, set and movements by the dancers need to be even more expressive than in other performances.
"You don't talk at all, so you use your body to act and tell the story," Wilson says. "If something is bothering you when you're on stage, you can't fix it or show any emotion."
In addition to trying to execute each dance move perfectly, Wilson will have to look like she isn't trying hard to dance, but also show the right emotion to go along with the dance.
"Ballet is meant to be beautiful and look effortless, but it's actually really hard," says Renee Wilson, Kyla's mother.
These challenges won't stop Wilson though, and the variety of dance moves to master is one thing she really likes about ballet.
"Sometimes you have to move really fast, like if you're twirling, but other times you have to be slower and calmer," she says. "Sometimes when you're on stage you have to hold a certain position, and you don't want to go out of that position, and sometimes you have to wait for a long time."
Wilson says patience is something she has learned from ballet, and it has helped in other aspects of her life, like when she is in class at William E. Miller Elementary school.
Sometimes it helps when she plays soccer, another favorite activity of hers, although she says soccer is pretty different from ballet.
"Ballet and soccer are both active, but soccer is more about running, being active by moving around," she says. "Ballet is more about having to stay calm and have controlled movements." Wilson thinks the two sports go together well, though.
"Ballet helps me stay up and not fall over during soccer, because it helps my balance and coordination," she says. "And you have to be strong to run fast and to hold positions."
When she is on the soccer field, or in her classroom, she's still implementing lessons she learned from ballet, the most important being to give it her all.
"You don't want to be messing around, and you always want to try your hardest because if you don't try your hardest you might not get better," Wilson says. The Nutcracker Performances