During the holiday season, “The Nutcracker” is a longtime tradition. The music, the dance, the ambiance – it’s something many people look forward to. For the ballerinas, it’s something they start preparing for months in advance.
For Westfield Intermediate School fifth-grader Julianna Conner, ballet and “The Nutcracker,” performed at the Paramount Theatre in Anderson, mean rehearsals starting in September to prepare for the big show.
“My favorite show is ‘The Nutcracker,’” says Conner, who has danced in “The Nutcracker” since before she can remember.
A dancer since the age of four, she found her love for the craft in San Antonio, where her family lived until 2018.
“At that point, my husband was still active-duty Army in San Antonio, so she took classes for a couple years on the Air Force base close to her house,” says her mother, Jennifer Conner, a native of Lapel, Indiana.
Though she took a little break to play soccer, she decided that dance was her calling.
“She came back to me when she was maybe ready to turn 6, and she was ready to dance again,” Jennifer says.
Though “The Nutcracker” is a ballet, it isn’t the only genre of dance Conner does.
“I do ballet, modern and contemporary,” she says. “My favorite is a tie between contemporary and ballet – ballet is more about technique, but contemporary is ballet moves but more acting.”
The Conner family found themselves moving back home to Westfield, and Conner began dancing at the Central Indiana Academy of Dance.
“I dance four days a week, except for when we have rehearsals,” she says. “Then I dance five, for usually two to three hours a night.”
With rehearsals on Saturday and dance during the week, Conner spends her free time reading.
“My favorite book is ‘Artemis Foul,’” she says.
Winter isn’t the only time Conner is preparing for a big recital. With three others in the spring and into the summer, the ballerina is always ready for showtime.
“I played a party boy in ‘The Nutcracker,’” she says.
“The Nutcracker” is one of the longer shows the Academy does, with quite a bit more stage time than other shows.
Even though Conner is constantly challenging herself through dance, her favorite school subject isn’t easy either.
“I love math,” she says. “I don’t know why specifically, but I like adding, subtracting and multiplying a lot.”
With a little break during the holidays, Conner will prepare for her next few shows during the spring, and join a summer intensive session.
Her long hours of practice with her friends, as well as her role as big sister to two younger brothers, will most certainly prepare her for the future.
“I want to be a part-time ballerina and a part-time veterinarian,” she says.