Photograph by Heather Thorne

Photograph by Heather Thorne

Sharing the Magic of Christmas

by DeeGee Lester

Children bring so much of the joy of Christmas. But imagine the heart-pumping excitement of a twelve-year-old that has the opportunity to share the magic of the season with thousands as the delightful central character, Clara, in Nashville Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker.

Carrie Anne Cohen, a 7th-grade student at Harding Academy, admits being “a little nervous” dancing a role so familiar to audiences and one that requires her to be onstage throughout most of the performance. But growing up in ballet (since age 4) and a Nutcracker veteran (in various roles) since age 8, Carrie Anne enjoys the tremendous support and preparation from members of the dance troupe as well as Nashville Ballet’s Allison Zamorski, Eric Harris (Uncle Drosselmeyer), and artistic director Paul Vasterling, whose unique staging sets events in the Nashville of 1897.

“The challenge, honestly,” says Carrie Anne in the words of a seasoned performer, “is to stop worrying, to fall in love with the story, and work with the story. It’s amazing to perform something so Nashville—the heart of the city.”

Photograph by Marianne Leach

Photograph by Marianne Leach

Among the many young dancers joining Carrie Anne and the Nashville Ballet troupe onstage is another Nutcracker veteran, 12-year-old Lloyd Ivester, a 6th-grade student at Ensworth. In the 2014 production, Lloyd plays the guard’s oldest son. In the past, Lloyd has played numerous parts, including the role of Fritz, Clara’s pesky, troublemaker brother, and says the challenge for that role was “getting the expressions just right” to convey the personality to the audience. Regardless of the role he is given each year, Lloyd says, “I feel like every part is just as important and just as fun! It’s amazing to dance and have everyone reacting to what you are doing.”

An avid athlete (hockey, swimming, baseball), Lloyd views dance as another demanding sport, requiring body and muscle control. “You have to get everything just right—your posture, everything.”

Together, these and other young dancers who will dazzle us this holiday season can easily echo Carrie Anne’s comment: “I love it, and I am so honored to have the opportunity to convey and share the magic of Christmas with the audience.”

Nashville’s Nutcracker runs December 6 through 23 at TPAC. For show times and tickets, visit

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