Dancers share role of Clara

Published 1:24 am Saturday, December 7, 2013


‘I don’t’ want to be Clara,’ said no one ever.

Those words on a T-shirt in Gigi’s Tutu, designed by a former Clara, sum up what being Clara means to the young women who will dance the role in the Andalusia Ballet’s 2013 production of The Nutcracker.

Both Lindsey Stephens and Sidney Ward said “being Clara” is something they’ve long dreamed of.

“This is what I always wanted,” Lindsey said. “I remember when I was one of the baby mice, Emily Kelley and Kate Barrow were Clara. They are both such amazing dancers. From then on, I’ve been working so long to get Clara. It’s a dream come true, really.

Sidney said she was excited when she learned she had earned the role.

“I was really happy,” she said, “An then I thought, ‘All the choreography!’ ”

Asked how many hours each week they’ve worked to prepare themselves, the girls sighed and smiled, then calculated the time they


spend in the studio each day. All told, they’ve spent more than 16 hours each week in ballet class and the production.

Meryane Martin Murphy, founder and artistic director of the Andalusia Ballet, said both dancers are self-driven.

“I don’t have to be hard on them because they drive themselves,” she said. “They’ve always worked really hard, and I had my eyes on them for a long time for this role. I was glad it worked out that they can do the role this year.”

Mrs. Murphy said both dancers participated in summer intensives away and at Andalusia Ballet. Sidney was among the 70 students selected to spend two weeks at Nutmeg Conservatory in Torrington, Conn. Lindsey studied for three weeks at the Houston Ballet Academy in Texas.

Both agreed that the summer work helped prepare them for the role.

“We had a lot of partnering classes,” Lindsey said. “It helped me when Dustin came. He is used to partnering professionals. It’s a lot better to know what to do, and when to do it.”

Dustin is Dustin Simmons of the Pensacola Ballet, a guest dancer who will dance the role of the Snow Cavalier.

“We don’t get to partner often,” Sidney said. “I have tried to imagine how I danced before this summer. I don’t think I could have pulled (this role) off.”

“They are wonderful examples for all of our dancers,” Mrs. Murphy said of Sidney and Lindsey. “Their manner of working I class and in rehearsal is great. They use expression and drama. They are not waiting for the performance. I really appreciate them.”

Lindsey, who will dance the role on Friday and Sunday, is the daughter of Keith and Shannon Stephens.

Sidney, who will perform Thursday and Saturday, is the daughter of Drs. Allen and Kim Ward.