Holiday Preview: Dance

‘Nutcracker’ inspires sibling revelry

By Lucy Barber
Globe Staff / November 22, 2009

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On the top floor of the Boston Ballet School, three students show off their one-handed cartwheels in a sun-filled studio. The girls are electric with energy from an afternoon of dance rehearsals and excitement over Boston Ballet’s upcoming production of “The Nutcracker,’’ which runs Friday through Dec. 27 at the Boston Opera House. Delia, Fiona, and Bronwyn Wada-Gill are not only all in the same “Nutcracker’’ cast; they are sisters. They spoke with us recently about the production.


“Ballet is very healthy,’’ 12-year-old Fiona says, with all the poise of a grown woman. “It calms me down.’’ There are few middle schoolers who would think of six days a week of ballet training as “calming.’’ But Fiona is not your average tween. She prefers jazz and classical music to the siren song of Zac Efron. Fiona is also following in her older sister Bronwyn’s slippers, taking on the starring role of Clara in “The Nutcracker’’ this year. “Bronwyn comes to watch rehearsal sometimes and says, ‘You’re doing great, and this is what you can work on,’ ’’ says Fiona. For the first time in the conversation, the serious student smiles.

Delia is 8 years old and the sort of adorable that trumps YouTube montages of baby puppies. She has trouble sitting still long enough to talk about her piano lessons or the six years she’s been practicing ballet. Instead, she is keen to scamper around the room in the spirit of her character, a baby mouse. With her tiny hands scrunched up like claws, Delia explains, “The baby mouse has a suit and black gloves with pretend dirt. Because,’’ she extrapolates, “mice are pretty dirty.’’ This year’s production of “The Nutcracker’’ will be Delia’s stage debut, though it was only a matter of time. The girls’ mother, Noriko Wada, beams as she says, “Delia started walking on the Boston Ballet stairs.’’

Bronwyn couldn’t be prouder of her little sisters, especially Fiona in the role of Clara. “I’m really glad she gets to do it,’’ says Bronwyn. The oldest Wada-Gill girl is a 15-year old sophomore in high school and already has two productions as Clara on her resume. This year she’ll appear as a shepherd and in the tea scene, which incorporates some of the girls’ Asian culture; their mother is from Japan. Bronwyn gracefully juggles ballet, advance placement classes, and possibly even boys. “I don’t tell my sisters if I like a boy because it’ll be around Boston Ballet by Monday,’’ she says. And she can’t say enough about how Boston Ballet enables its students to express themselves in performance. “They let you make Clara who you want her to be,’’ she says. “I imagined her as a quiet girl with something to say on the inside.’’

2009 Holiday Guide
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