SPRINGFIED, Mo. One of the most familiar sounds of the holiday season is the music and dancing from the Nutcracker.
Hannah Bottarel dances with Springfield Ballet and told us that Nutcracker is particularly special for her "It was the first ballet I ever participated in.," she said. "It's my favorite to date because I feel like it's the embodiment of Christmas spirit."
She began dancing when she was just two years old, but remembers her first time in the Nutcracker, "I started out when I was 8 years old. I was a baby mouse in the battle scene. I still remember I was off stage and I was watching Clara dance. I was like, "some day I want to be her.""
That dream is taking becoming a reality for the Ozark high schooler this year. She's not only going to have time in the spotlight dancing in the role of Clara, but is making sure to give back to her dance community. She helped teach some of the workshops that were offered to 3-8 year old dancers. She told us this is something she has wanted to do for a long time. "All the Claras I looked up to, and all the older girls are just really good to the little kids, and so I hope that I'm the same way with the kids now."
Katie Is a mother of 2 children who were at the dance workshop. She has witnessed first hand that experienced dancers like Hannah are setting a great example. She told us, "The older girls are like mentors to the little girls. When I would bring my daughter last year on Saturday mornings, we'd walk through the hall and I'd say, "look at the ballerinas!" And she'd be like, "hi!" And they would all stop and look right at her- very supportive group of young girls helping each other."
Her daughter is only 4 years old, but has already seen major benefits from ballet. She told us, "My daughter has a chromosome abnormality, and ballet helps with the flexibility & the core strength that she's otherwise lacking, so we do the ballet to help with that as well."
But, it's not just physical benefits that come from ballet. Katie believes that her daughter is learning skills she can carry with her in other situations. "I think the ballet teaches so much about life skills and respect and how you carry yourself as a person," she said. "They teach confidence and poise and control, all of which my kids and anybody can benefit from."
And like most things, achieving the perfect turnout or a lead role in ballet takes time. Hannah had this advice, "stick with it. Sometimes it's hard and there's a lot of long hours. But it's worth it in the end and it's so fun to perform."
Most of the dancers at the workshop are too young to dance in The Nutcracker this year. Tickets for Springfield Ballet's Nutcracker are on sale now. Performances will be December 15-18.