1. Getting to partner with amazing guest artists. Last year I was Clara and I got to partner with Arron Scott of American Ballet Theater (ABT). He was the Cavalier and he was really nice and of course an awesome dancer. I cannot believe I got to dance with someone from ABT!. This year I am the Female Soloist in the Chinese scene, and the Male Soloist that I get to partner with is Albert Drake from Bruce Wood Dance Company. He is a really amazing dancer (his jumps and tours are so fierce!) and I can't wait to dance with him on stage!
2. Learning all the different choreography. Our school is small and because of that, we are cast in several roles and we also have the opportunity to understudy several different parts. This year, I'm the Chinese Soloist and a Snow Princess. I'm learning those roles and I'm also understudy for like, almost everyone in Waltz of the Flowers, so I've learned that choreography too. I've also been studying and independently learning Dew Drop Fairy because it's a role I would love to play in the future and the choreography is so beautiful. The choreography I do for Chinese soloist has been the most challenging because I do five really big sissones that require a ton of energy and ballon to get up in the air and keep up with the male soloist. Then right after the series of sissones, I have to run back to the center of the stage and do five fouetté turns in attitude which are super tricky. You can see me rehearsing this sequence on my Instagram post (@Olivia_TheDancer) from September 22. I hope I can get it right on the day of the show!
3. The RUSH! Our Nutcracker is very different from most productions of The Nutcracker. The first act is full of singing and lots of different dance styles including jazz, tap, and contemporary. We usually have one singing act in between each dance number to change costumes (and sometimes hair) and be ready on time for the following number. Then at the end of Act 1 is the Snow Scene from The Nutcracker. We literally have one three-minute song to transform from Rockette-style tappers in character shoes and tan tights, to full-on bunhead ballerinas in pink tights, tutus, and pointe shoes! Whew! My Mahogany Blues under-over leotard really saves me during the quick changes! The experience is exhausting but exciting, and all the times rushing around and being frantic backstage with my friends are actually some of my most memorable moments from the show.
4. Gorgeous Costumes The costumes we get to wear are THE BEST! In the Opening Number, we have Soldiers, Elves, Santas, Candy Canes, and Ballerinas. I get to be one of only two Ballerinas in the Opening Number and I get to wear a GORGEOUS sparkly gold tutu! It's so pretty and it hasn't been used in a few years, so I'm so excited to be able to wear it on stage this year. In the Snow scene when I am a Snow Princess, I get to wear a beautiful white platter tutu with silver embellishments. It's going to look so pretty under the stage lights...especially when the snow starts falling during the show! Then in the Chinese scene, I get to wear my very favorite tutu. It's really rich red velvet with gorgeous black and gold authentic Chinese embellishments stitched onto the platter part of the tutu. Underneath is thick black tulle, and on my head I get to wear an exotic headpiece with red and gold swirls. I think it's the prettiest costume in the whole show, but I might be a little biased!
5. The little kids. Okay, I know I'm technically still kind of a little kid. But to a lot of the other little kids, I'm a big girl now, and it's soooo neat having them look up to me. In the Chinese scene, I dance in front of little girls who play Chinese dragons who are about 7 years old. They are so cute, but to them, I'm the BIG girl who they think is a BIG deal and who they get to dance with. They look up to me and they think I'm a star and someone who is really important. But they actually inspire me. I realize that they look up to me and that makes me want to work hard and be sweet so that I set a good example for them. I am honored that they think I'm special, so that helps me to remember to have a good attitude and be a really good person and dancer so that I don't let them down.
13-year-old Olivia Bell studies in the pre-professional training program at The Dallas Conservatory under the direction of Jacqueline Porter. Olivia has been awarded scholarships to attend Summer Programs at The School of American Ballet, The Ailey School, and Dance Theatre of Harlem School. She won the prestigious Hope Award at Youth America Grand Prix in Dallas, was named one of the Top 15 National Mini Outstanding Dancers by New York City Dance Alliance, and was selected as one of “5 to Watch” by Brown Girls Do Ballet. She is an ambassador for Brown Girls Do Ballet, and has been featured in The Huffington Post, The Dallas Morning News, and by Because of them We Can. She is a former “Gaynor Girl,” an ambassador for Gaynor Minden, and a member of “Club Five,” the ambassador program for Five Dancewear.