A teary-eyed Clara waves goodbye to visions of sugar plums and her Nutcracker Prince and is soon reminded it was an enchanting dream as the curtain comes down.
But behind the curtain, there will be half a dozen graduating seniors with real tears--knowing it is their final performance in the California Dance Theatre Festival Ballet's "Nutcracker."
The 13th annual production again will be under the artistic direction of Kim Maselli in December.
"It is definitely a turning point in the lives of these young dancers who have spent years forfeiting their afternoons and Saturdays to be inside a studio, dreaming of becoming a real ballerina," said Lori Sorenson, the ballet company's administrative director. "It's a gamble: The odds are slim and each are only an injury away from dashed hopes."
Few realize a career as a professional dancer, which calls for intense discipline, daily pain and total dedication to the art, Sorenson said.
"It's no wonder that the numbers of prima-hopefuls dwindle the closer they get to graduation from high school," Sorenson said.
But dancers at California Dance Theatre persevere despite the odds.
"It's hard to watch them grow into young women and leave the studio," said Maselli, the production's artistic director and choreographer. "But it is gratifying to see them grow in confidence as their dreams take shape and become a reality."
The company's "Nutcracker" performances will be at 2:30 and 7 p.m. on Dec. 16 and at 2:30 and 6 p.m. on Dec. 17 at the Fred Kavli Theatre at the Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Tickets for reserved seating range from $15 to $30 each.
For more information, call the Civic Arts Plaza at 449-2787 or the ballet company at (818) 707-3267.