Katherine Free and Erin Lutomski
The first time she went to “The Nutcracker,” Erin Lutomski told her mom she wanted to be in it and she wanted to be Clara.
Almost 10 years of ballet lessons later, her dreams are coming true. The Simmons Middle School sixth-grader will play Clara in the Birmingham Ballet’s production at the BJCC Dec. 12-14.
Erin’s predecessor in the role, Katherine Free, a sophomore at Hoover High School, said it was a little depressing coming off the high of playing Clara in 2012 and 2013.
“It was what I thought it would be — it was fairy tale-like,” she said.
But one of her favorite parts of that role was dancing with the Dew Drop Fairy in “Waltz of the Flowers.” This year she’ll get to take on the Dew Drop’s role, one that comes with a tutu she thinks is especially pretty.
“Dew Drop is not a sculpted character,” she said. “You get to play with the emotions of the audience. It’s not a quiet role.”
Katherine has been in The Nutcracker since she was an infant. Because her mom, Cindy, is the director of the ballet company, Katherine was a party baby in the production before taking on ballet at age 2. She returned to the stage in the production at age 5.
“I used to think of the older dancers as amazing, but now I don’t think I am perfect,” Katherine said. “It’s fun to know that there are people looking up to me.”
This is Erin’s first year in a lead role, and she said she likes being able to have big parts in all of the dances. The music in the battle scene is her favorite, but her favorite dance is the one where Drosselmeyer brings the Nutcracker to life.
To prepare for the role, Erin is rehearsing four evenings a week and seven hours every Saturday. She often waltzes down the hallway into her bedroom as well.
At the end of a long rehearsal day, she said her feet are tired, but it’s still fun.
Birmingham Ballet’s performances of The Nutcracker are scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 13, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 14, at 2 p.m. at the BJCC. The Mutt-cracker, a version of The Nutcracker that incorporates dog performances, will be held Friday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the BJCC and benefits the Greater Birmingham Humane Society. For tickets or more information, visit birminghamballet.com.