Night & Day — Aniko Nagy, 16, was Clara in 2007. For her, the opportunity “meant that you were finally becoming one of the important girls in the company, because that was when you first started to interact with the corps and the principals, and it really meant that you were on your way to becoming something greater than just part of the company.”
“It was a great honor,” she said. “Watching the Claras before me, it was kind of like, ‘Oh, I want to be her.’ You’re just kind of thinking, ‘Oh, well maybe next year, if I work hard enough, I can probably eventually get up to that status.’ “
Post-Clara, Aniko has had many lead roles in Act II.
Beverley Feder, the GNBC’s artistic director, said, “Unfortunately, everyone can’t be Clara. But if you are selected as Clara, it’s an experience – one to remember. It’s a good memory.”
For her, “The Nutcracker” is “one of my special ballets that I enjoy seeing, and I can see it time and time again.” She said it took many years for the GNBC to raise funds to purchase the rights to the show, and then a lot of hard work to make her version successful. For that reason, Feder doesn’t take casting lightly.
“When I look at the students, I look for size, No. 1, to make sure that they can fit into the (Clara) outfit,” she said. “I look at their feet to see if they have a nice stretch. And they have to have a dance background. Most of all, they have to have a charisma and a beautiful presentation with their face, because they basically carry the first act.”
Feder’s assistant, Julie Traver, said the key to Clara is “being able to communicate with an audience. To look out at the audience; to express themselves to the audience. Clara has to be happy, and angry, and she needs to show all kinds of emotions. She also, obviously, has to dance and be able to pick up things. Clara has to carry the show, pretty much. It’s about being able to dance with everyone else, but also really relate to the audience.”