Two Winthrop eighth graders and high honor students, Olivia Brandi-Miller and Grace Smotrich, will be performing in Boston Ballet’s production of Mikko Nissinen’s “The Nutcracker,” from Nov. 28 through Dec. 31 at the Boston Opera House.
Olivia will be making her third appearance in The Nutcracker where she will dance in two roles, a Musician Soldier in Act 1, and a Chinese dancer in Act 2. Grace will be dancing as a Party Girl in the production that draws capacity audiences to the Opera House for the production that is a truly magical experience.
Olivia began dancing seven years ago at the Winthrop School of Performing Arts with Trudy Macero. Three years ago, at the suggestion of her lyrical dance teacher, Olivia was encouraged to study ballet. She enrolled in summer dance program at Boston Ballet to learn the basics and quickly realized she had a love, passion and talent for ballet.
In the fall, Olivia became a full-time student at Boston Ballet, and even with the late start she auditioned for The Nutcracker and landed the coveted role of a Polichinelle in her first year. Under the excellent instruction of the Boston Ballet staff, Olivia continued to progress and was given the opportunity to dance in two additional Boston Ballet productions, Sleeping Beauty and La Bayadere.
Olivia is excited to be performing in The Nutcracker for the third time.
“Two years was my first time on the stage [for The Nutcracker], it was really fun but the second year was more exciting because as a Party Girl, you’re on a stage for a really long time,” said Olivia.
Olivia said she’s happy to share The Nutcracker experience with Grace, her Middle School classmate.
“It’s more exciting because I have someone from the same hometown who’s going through the same experience that I’m going through,” said Olivia.
Grace began dancing in Winthrop when she was three years old. After a year with Diane Davis and then five years at the Winthrop School of Performing Arts with Trudy Macero, she knew her passion was ballet and joined the Northeast School of Ballet to begin her formal training.
Under the direction of Denise Cecere, Grace trained in classical ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, and ballroom dance and performed each year in the Northeast Youth Ballet’s production of the The Nutcracker.
After attending the Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program in Newton this past summer, Grace was accepted into the audition-only and highly competitive Pre-Professional Program with Boston Ballet in Boston.
Grace currently trains six days a week in technique, pointe, variations, modern character and Pilates.
“It’s exciting because this is my first time in The Nutcracker and I get to share it with Olivia,” said Grace.
Both performers have aspirations to be professional ballet dancers. The Nutcracker’s professional dancers have been helpful to them during rehearsals.
“Usually backstage they’ll talk to us and joke around with us and we’ll feel more comfortable before we go on stage,” said Olivia. “I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work and commitment to reach our goal.
“It’s exciting to be performing with professional dancers and it’s been a great experience meeting them and learning from them,” said Grace. “To be a professional, it’s going to take hard work, passion, commitment, and you need to love it. If you don’t love it, you’re never going to make it.”
Both girls thanked their parents for driving them to and from rehearsals and supporting their dream to perform in The Nutracker.
Both Grace and Olivia thanked