Adult Ballerinas in The Nutcracker

Performing in The Nutcracker isn’t just for kids or professional dancers. I’m excited to report that there were five adult ballet students in Birmingham Ballet’s 2014 Nutcracker! Meet the cast below. Maybe you’ll be inspired to try performing yourself!

ABP- KellyKelly Milam

Role: Clara’s Mother

How long have you been dancing ballet as an adult?

I took ballet classes as a child, but didn’t pick it back up until I was 26 or 27. I was assisting a teacher at the dance school where I now teach and decided to get back into ballet since I have always loved it so. I was excited to be in the recital numbers along with the teenagers. I just never revealed my age. I guess they just wondered. Now that I am 48, and have been dancing ever since that first recital, I still don’t reveal my age. I still want people “wondering.”

What inspired you to start performing in Nutcracker as an adult?

My mother saw a poster advertising auditions for Birmingham Ballet’s Nutcracker back in 1999. Knowing how much I loved to dance, she told me about the audition and encouraged me to attend. I was so excited to be a part of the performance and loved every minute of it. I was a party mom and encouraged a friend of mine to be a party dad. He only did that one performance, but I was hooked from then on!

Did you ever perform in Nutcracker in K-12 or college? If so, what were some of the roles you had?

I never performed in the Nutcracker as a child or teen, but I remember seeing it one time when I was about seven years old. I remember wishing I could be on the stage.

How many years have you performed in Nutcracker as an adult?

This year’s Nutcracker was my 16th! I hope to be in it every year and maybe perform as the grandmother when I am older. My favorite year was when the director allowed me to also perform in “Snow” and “Waltz”. No one knew that I was 35! It was amazing, but a lot of hard work!

What did you enjoy most about performing in Nutcracker this year?

I always enjoy the joy of the party scene and the magic of feeling that you are really transported to somewhere else. I also love when the audience claps or laughs and you know they are enjoying the performance. But my favorite part of this year’s performance was the fellowship and camaraderie we felt. We really have fun together as a cast and feel like family. We enjoy encouraging one another and joking and laughing backstage behind the curtain. We lift one another up in prayer and dedicate our performance to the Lord and are thankful for the abilities and opportunity He has given to us to do what we love.

Do you think you’ll try to perform in Nutcracker again next year?

I will definitely plan on performing in the Nutcracker next year. I am already looking forward to seeing my Nutcracker friends and family!

Alicia GrantABP- Alicia

Role: Party Guest

How long have you been dancing ballet as an adult?

I started dancing about 10 years ago. I danced regularly for several years but had to stop. I started dancing again 2 years ago.

What inspired you to start performing in Nutcracker as an adult?

I was inspired to perform in Nutcracker when I started dancing at a school [Birmingham Ballet] that had a production. I had always wanted to perform and was totally excited when I auditioned and got a part.

Did you ever perform in Nutcracker in K-12 or college? If so, what were some of the roles you had?

I didn’t get the chance to dance as a child. I’m an adult beginner.

How many years have you performed in Nutcracker as an adult?

This is my second Nutcracker.

What did you enjoy most about performing in Nutcracker this year?

I enjoyed the camaraderie with the other dancers the most. It was like being part of a really big and talented family.

Do you think you’ll try to perform in Nutcracker again next year?

I hope I’m cast in next year’s show. I would love to get to dance in the second act too.

ABP- Anna ClareAnna Clare Culp

Roles: Party Guest, Russian Dance

How long have you been dancing ballet as an adult?

I graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2008 and had been doing some dance classes with BSC so naturally I tried to continue taking classes after graduation. It’s been off and on for me since then, given that I was pregnant for the better part of 2013, and then having a baby in the beginning of 2014, I couldn’t dance as much.

What inspired you to start performing in Nutcracker as an adult?

I’ve always loved performing in the Nutcracker since I was a little girl! The music makes me just want to get up on stage and dance it all again! I saw on Facebook the ad for open casting with Birmingham Ballet on a Friday morning, and the audition was the next day! I just told myself, go for it and see! I also had one of my favorite students supporting me and telling me to go for it too!

Did you ever perform in Nutcracker in K-12 or college? If so, what were some of the roles you had?

I performed in the Nutcracker for so many years as a child growing up. I got to start off as an angel, little mouse, party scene girl, and soldier. As I got better and older I got the roles of Clara, snowflake, flower, Spanish Chocolate, and Mirliton.

How many years have you performed in Nutcracker as an adult?

This is the first time I’ve performed in the Nutcracker since I was in 10th grade!

What did you enjoy most about performing in Nutcracker this year?

I really enjoyed this experience of performing with Birmingham Ballet because of the support and work every one put into the performance. It was another chance for me to become part of a dance family again, like I had growing up with Ballet Pensacola. The fact that parents were so involved was great to see too! It takes me back in time to when I was performing with my dad being a stage hand and my mom helping with costumes and such. I also just loved being in the wings, heart racing, gearing up to go on and do the best I could with all the preparation I had put into the Russian dance! That feeling of fear and anxiousness that meets passion is the best!

Do you think you’ll try to perform in Nutcracker again next year?

I would love to perform the Nutcracker again for as long as they will have me!

ABP- HelenHelen Kim

Role: Party Guest

How long have you been dancing ballet as an adult?

I’ve been taking adult ballet for 2 years.

What inspired you to start performing in Nutcracker as an adult?

I had never been in any kind of theatre production, let alone a ballet, so thought it would be fun.

Did you ever perform in Nutcracker in K-12 or college? If so, what were some of the roles you had?

I did not take enough ballet as a child to perform in anything.

How many years have you performed in Nutcracker as an adult?

2 years.

What did you enjoy most about performing in Nutcracker this year?

I enjoy watching the girls (and boys) thrilling the audience with their grace and athletic ability on stage, then coming off into the wings and panting and catching their breath, and then you realize they’re human beings. I also enjoyed the camaraderie among the adults in the dressing room.

Do you think you’ll try to perform in Nutcracker again next year?

I hope so!!

ABP- Rachel 1Rachel Hellwig

Roles: Party Scene Maid, Russian Dance

How long have you been dancing ballet as an adult?

I actually started at age 13, so I’ve been taking ballet for over 10 years now.

What inspired you to start performing in Nutcracker as an adult?

I really missed performing! Being onstage in a ballet is a magic that you just can’t experience from any other source.

Did you ever perform in Nutcracker in K-12 or college? If so, what were some of the roles you had?

Yes, I performed in different Nutcrackers when I was in high school. I played a solider, snowflake, butterfly, candy cane, and angel.

How many years have you performed in Nutcracker as an adult?

This was my 5th Nutcracker as an adult.

What did you enjoy most about performing in Nutcracker this year?

I loved getting to be in Act II and dance in the finale. The concluding music of Nutcracker so brilliantly conveys the emotions at the end of a beautiful dream- a burst of uncontrollable joy followed by a bittersweet, lullaby-like melody as Clara wakes up. It’s a delight to dance to!

Do you think you’ll try to perform in Nutcracker again next year?

Oh yes, absolutely. I will try to perform in Nutcracker as long as possible. Nutcracker season is the best season of the year!

ABP- Rachel and Anna Clare

Being in The Nutcracker May Require:

  • Attending an audition
  • Paying a production and/or costume fee
  • Rehearsing during work hours during theater week

Disclaimer: Performing in The Nutcracker can be highly addictive. You have been warned.

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