Little girls who dream of becoming ballerinas and finding a prince of their own were in for a treat when, as they sipped tea and nibbled on sweets, characters from the “Nutcracker” ballet came to meet them Saturday.
For the fourth year, the Columbia City Ballet is hosting Nutcracker Teas for children and their families, where they hear the story of the “Nutcracker” and enjoy an afternoon of dainty activity before seeing the ballet performance.
“Having a tea with your daughter is such a special event,” said Jacqueline Vose, who brought her 6-year-old daughter, Abigail, and her friend Emmy Michael, 5.
The Voses have come to the ballet and the tea every year since Abigail was 3. Abigail enjoys watching her ballet teacher dance in the production. Clara, the young girl at the center of the toys-come-to-life story, is her favorite character.
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“There’s only a certain window of age that you can do this, so when they’re young, it’s the best time,” Vose said. “And they’re so enamored with all levels of the dance company.”
A number of young dancers came to the tea party dressed in their holiday best and mingled among colorful, candy-themed tables, where they were served tea and sweet treats while listening to the story of the “Nutcracker” and seeing some of the dancers perform.
Eleven-year-old Reece Mack came with her sister, Riley, 9, and their mother and grandmother. Their friends 10-year-old Hailey and 7-year-old Isabella Locascio and their mother joined them.
“I think it’s really cool because I love dancing, too, and I love ballet, and I like to watch them,” Hailey said.
The girls all agreed that Clara is their favorite character.
The tea is a special time for children to be able to connect with characters off the stage, said William Starrett, artistic and executive director of the Columbia City Ballet.
“They think of Beyonce and those kind of people as almost not human, but I think this is really fun that they get to really mingle with the characters themselves,” Starrett said. “Just as special as Santa Claus is, I want them to think that the Nutcracker Prince and the Sugarplum Fairy are just as special, in a sense.”
Three-year-old Isabella Canales is convinced that ballerinas are special – she likes to call them “princess ballerinas,” said her mother, Tahira.
It was Isabella’s first time seeing the ballet in person.
Her mother was glad to have the experience with her.
“When you’re a little girl, you always dream of being a ballerina,” Tahira Canales said. “And now she’s in that stage where she dreams of it, too, so why not share it with her?”