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Eliana Juarez, a third-grade student at Barbers Hill Elementary School North, at the audition for the Houston Ballet production of “The Nutcracker.”

“The Nutcracker” is a time-honored Christmas tradition that has introduced generations of children to the world of ballet by way of dancing toys, sweets and a little girl’s dreams. For one Mont Belvieu girl this Christmas, that introduction took place on the stage, not in the audience.

Each year the Houston Ballet holds auditions for children’s roles in the production, and Eliana Juarez, a third-grader at Barbers Hill Elementary School North won one of the coveted roles in a late-summer audition.

Eliana’s mom, Stephanie, said the 8-year-old has taken dance classes for several years, but this is her first time on state except for dance recitals.

“I don’t think she realized how big of a production it was until they did a dress rehearsal and they had the props set up and everybody dressed up and all that,” Stephanie said.

“We put her in dance because it was something she enjoyed. At least now she can see what people do professionally as a ballet dancer being in big productions like this.”

Stephanie said she did not know about the opportunity with the opportunity until she saw information online posted by the dance studio Eliana attends, Pure Talent Performing Arts in Baytown.

Even after the audition, it was weeks before finding out Eliana had been selected to dance as a ballerina and an angel.

For her part, Eliana said, “I really like it,” and it’s a lot of work. 

“It’s different, because I’ve never had a recital before with grown-ups in it,” she said.

Stephanie said it has been a great experience of Eliana being able to be part of a professional production with its demanding standards. 

“The experience of it all is something she has really gained from it. They will tell her that you have to do that again, or just try again over and over and over again, so that once she does it, it’s like, ‘there you go!’”

“I have noticed a difference with her,” Stephanie said.

Houston Ballet performances of “The Nutcracker” continue through Sunday, with performances at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Wortham Theater Center. For tickets, go to houstonballet.org.

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