Four local students will make their debut on the professional stage when they dance in the Detroit Opera House's annual production of The Nutcracker over Thanksgiving weekend.
Brighton residents Peyton Ackley, 13, an eighth-grader at Scranton Middle School; Allyse Kish, 13, an eighth-grader at St. Patrick School, her sister, Alyvia Kish, 10, a fifth-grader at St. Patrick School and Howell resident Amaya McKenzie, 13, an eighth-grader at Parker Middle School have all been chosen to perform in the BalletMet - Michigan Opera Theatre 2012 production.
The girls, who have all been dancing for the majority of their lives, auditioned with the BalletMet and Michigan Opera Theatre along with about 200 other students and were among about 60 that were selected to be a part of the production.
Allyse and Amaya will both dance the role of a First Tall Battallion Solider while Alyvia will dance the role of a ginger. Peyton will dance several roles: a Second Small Battallion Soldier, an angel and a jumping mouse.
Alyvia summed up the feelings of all the girls about being in the production.
"I'm excited and nervous to be on the big stage and really proud that I made it," she said.
Peyton added that doing these performances are different from anything any of the girls has ever done before because it won't be just family members in the audience.
"There will be people we don't know who want to come watch the show," Peyton said. "You don't know who's going to be there from different places - you could get noticed by just being in the production."
The girls rehearse every Saturday and Sunday up until Thanksgiving weekend, when the performances begin. But the practices are very different from what they're used to in their classes at Big City Dance Center in Wixom and Michelle’s Academy of Dance in Brighton.
"They're more professional," Amaya said. "You don't talk. There's a lot of respect for the director, which we have in class too. It's just not as strict in regular class."
The girls first heard about the auditions from their dance instructor and decided to try out.
"I thought that going in, because it's so big, that there were going to be dancers that were just out of my league and that I couldn't compare to them - that this was something for more experienced dancers to actually audition," Peyton said. "But when we got there, I thought we actually had a really good chance to get in - and we did!"
The Nutcracker runs at the Detroit Opera House during Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 23-25.
Peyton and Amaya will perform in the shows on Friday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 24 at 2:30 p.m. Peyton and Allyse will perform in the shows on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 25 at 2:30 p.m.
Special family matinees include boxed lunches, live reindeer, photos with Santa and the Nutcracker, and a special opportunity to meet The Nutcracker dancers on the stage in the Sugar Plum Parade.
Tickets are on sale now. For more information, visit www.michiganopera.org.