It never ceases to amaze me what young children can do when they put their hearts into it. Each year Dance Kids of Monterey County puts on a truly remarkable performance of the Nutcracker ballet. The stars are children ranging from age 3 on up to 18. The supporting cast are, for the most part, just parents of those kids along with a couple very talented male dancers for 2 key rolls (mostly because they can do lifts and studied dance their entire lives too).
Each year I photograph the performances so that the parents (me included) get well done photos of their children's 15 minutes of fame. They start rehearsing in September and put on 3 shows in early December. Hours and hours of rehearsal. Sore and bandaged feet balanced on the toe box of pointe shoes. Memorizing choreography for 6 or more scenes. Doing homework and studying for finals in the dressing rooms between numbers. Commitment.
For the record, dancers may be some of the best athletes - like gymnasts. They have strength and poise. My 8th grade daughter holds the sit up and push up record at her middle school - boys and girls. As she says to the boys "Oh you play football? That's cute."
And these dancers shone like the stars they are. Nothing cuter than a teeny ballerina or more impressive than a 14 year old girl dancing with the beauty and elegance that 11 years of dance training and commitment can bring.