Twins share Nutcracker role

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Twin sisters Hannah and Elizabeth McCalman share the role of Clara in The Andalusia Ballet’s production of The Nutcraker this year.

Every December, when the Andalusia Ballet stages The Nutcracker, two students share the role of Clara, the girl whose toy nutcracker comes to life.
This year, those two students are twin sisters Hannah and Elizabeth McCalman, daughters of David and Stacie McCalman.
The girls have spent most of the past two months preparing for this weekend’s production, but they’ve spent their lives preparing for the role.
The twins started dancing when they were 3.
“They’ve worked very hard in the past year,” Andalusia Ballet artistic director Meryane Murphy said. “They’re very different dancers, but they support each other well.”
The girls say it’s quite convenient to have a sister who’s learning the same dances.
“If one of us forgets something, we go over it,” Elizabeth said.
Hannah added that taking notes after class makes the task even easier.
In the role of Clara, the sisters will each perform a pas de deux, a dance with a male partner.
While they’ve never had an opportunity to do that before on stage, a three-week American Ballet Theatre summer intensive in Tuscaloosa prepared them for this week’s performance.
Hannah called it “my favorite summer of my life.”
Joseph Jacoby of the Montgomery Ballet will dance the role of the nutcracker. So far, the girls like dancing with a partner.
“You have to really know your part,” Elizabeth said.
“And really trust them,” Hannah added.
They’ve also learned the tricks that make it easier for male dancers to lift ballerinas.
“If you arch your back more, it’s easier,” Elizabeth said. “It makes you lighter.”
Both agreed their favorite parts in Nutcracker are the angel scene and the tree scene in which Clara throws a shoe at the rat king.
“There are lots of lifts in the angel scene one and it’s really fun,” Hannah said.
Their role requires them to not only spend extra time dancing, but also promoting the production. Last Thursday, the girls spent their day visiting with third and fifth graders in Andalusia and Straughn, all of whom will have the opportunity to see a production of Nutcracker at LBWCC this Thursday.
“Mrs. Murphy told them the story of the nutcracker and then we did a small dance that’s in The Nutcracker,” Hannah said.
They’re also being especially mindful of nutrition in the two weeks leading up to the performance, they said, drinking lots of water and eating fresh fruit.
As Andalusia Ballet Senior Company trainees, the sisters dance on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Wednesdays. In the fall, they practice for Nutcracker on Sundays, and as Clara, there’s been Saturday work, as well.
That doesn’t leave much time for other extra-curricular activities, but they managed to fit in soccer this year.
Hannah’s favorite subject is math; Elizabeth’s is science.
“I like to experiment and do projects,” she said.
Both are interested in becoming teachers and both would consider dance as a subject to teach.
Show times include a special membership performance for Andalusia Ballet members on Fri., Dec. 10, at 7:30 p.m.. Tickets for non-members are $25. Saturday’s performance will be at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $12 and the Sunday performance will be at 2:30 p.m., and cost is $12.
Performances will be held at the Dixon Center of the Performing Arts at LBWCC.