Pirouetting into the limelight for Christmas spectacular
Amelia Hocking’s face lights up when she talks about the upcoming Nutcracker Holiday Spectacular.
The ten-year-old won her dream role as Clara, the young heroine of the story, who receives a Nutcracker doll at her parent’s annual holiday party.
She said: “I was excited to get Clara because it is a solo and I’ve never really had a solo before.”
Amelia was also looking forward to doing some acting.
This is her second time in In Motion School of Dance’s annual Christmas classic. She was an ice cube and a babushka doll last year.
Hannah Taylor, 16, has been involved in this Christmas production since she was ten; her first role was a baby sunflower.
“I was very nervous, but it was good, because we were partnered up with the older dancers,” Hannah said. “I was able to see them and know what I wanted to work towards. They really pushed me and I wanted to be just like them.”
For the past three years she has been a background dancer in the Arabian scene. This year she is the Arabian Queen, another choice role.
Hannah has been taking dance classes at In Motion on Reid Street in Hamilton since she was 18 months old.
“I started out in the Mommy and Me class,” she said.
Amelia transferred to In Motion, two years ago, from the Somerset School of Dancing. The change took some adjustment.
“It is so different,” Amelia said. “Before I was only taking Royal Academy of Dance classes. Now I am doing other things as well such as the Nutcracker production.”
After getting the role of Clara, she practised at home to make sure she had the steps down perfectly. Then her teacher threw a curve ball.
“She said she had to make it harder for me since I was picking up the choreography so fast,” Amelia said. “I was definitely a little worried when she said that but it only made me work harder.”
As thrilled as Amelia is to be Clara, she is also a little nervous. A solo means all eyes in the theatre will be on her for a few minutes.
During the interview with The Royal Gazette, the older Hannah reassured Amelia.
“The audience is just there to watch you and have a good time,” Hannah said. “They are not professional dancers. They are not judging your every move. Since it is a solo that makes it easier than a group dance. If you do mess up, just keep going. The audience usually does not know the dance at all.”
As young dancers they have both had their embarrassing moments. Two years ago, Hannah went on stage with her tutu not done up completely in the back.
“I just kept doing the dance as if nothing was wrong,” she said.
Afterward her mother reassured her that she could not tell that anything was amiss. Last year, Amelia’s ice cube headwear kept slipping. Every time she went to roll over on stage during a dance her hair came undone.
“I could feel the ice cubes jiggling around on my head,” she said. “I kept trying to keep my head to one side so they would not fall off,” Amelia laughed.
Learning to work through problems on stage is part of the process of growing as a dancer.
Hannah takes classes at In Motion four times a week so it can be challenging balancing school work with dance.
“Luckily, my earliest class is at 5.30pm, so after school finishes I have three hours to work on my homework,” she said. “I have definitely had to sacrifice things. Dance is the only thing I do after school.”
Amelia takes dance classes three times a week. She also does piano, football and trumpet.
She thought the dance lessons helped her with football.
“Dance gets your core moving,” she said. “You need to have a strong core with football to run around the field. It has definitely helped me concentrate a little bit more too. You really have to work on getting your foot there and make sure your legs are turned out and you are focused.”
Both dancers are Bermuda High School students. Amelia is in Primary 6, and Hannah is in her first year of the A-level programme.
Hannah’s dream is to become an actor.
“I definitely want to keep taking dance classes when I go to university,” she said.
She has been in a number of Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda musicals, including Shrek the Musical in October, when she was Pinocchio.
“Shrek was super fun,” she said. “I have done a lot of their shows since 2016 but this was the first time I was given a big feature role. I felt really important and really good.”
Amelia is not sure yet what she wants to do as a career but knows she wants to keep dancing.
“I definitely want to move ahead with my dance and get to know the different styles of dance such as lyrical, modern and jazz,” she said.
The Nutcracker Holiday Spectacularwill be held on December 15 and 16 at 7pm at the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium at CedarBridge Academy in Devonshire. There will also be a special performance on December 16 at 2pm, suitable for people with sensory challenges. This will be a “petite performance” with fewer numbers and fewer dancers.
• Tickets are $90 for patrons and $55 general admission for the regular show, and $45 for the petite performance, available at www.ptix.bm. For more information, see www.inmotionbda.com