Ballet Dancer Making Strides In ‘Nutcracker’

By Janee Law

Ballet dancer Sarah Gavilla, 15, rehearses as Clara in Eglevsky Ballet's production of “The Nutcracker.”

Ballet dancer Sarah Gavilla, 15, rehearses as Clara in Eglevsky Ballet's production of “The Nutcracker.”

Sarah Gavilla has performed Clara in productions of “The Nutcracker” for the past two years, including last year with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular’s National Tour. She’ll return to that role this holiday season, but the 15-year-old Melville resident is stepping things up with a more challenging choreography alongside two principal dancers from the New York City Ballet.

Sarah, who attends St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington and studies ballet at Eglevsky Ballet School in Bethpage, will be part of Eglevsky’s production at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of LIU Post Campus in Brookville Dec. 19-20.

“This is more strictly ballet,” said Sarah’s mother, Christine Gavilla. She said Radio City offers entertainment value for little kids.

The principal New York City Ballet dancers include Savannah Lowery, who stars as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

“I definitely think it’s going to be a great experience,” said Sarah. “It’s going to be a lot different than the other ‘Nutcrackers’ that I’ve done in the past. There’s a lot of very challenging choreography and I’m excited.”

Dancing since she was 4 years old, Sarah attended North Shore Studio of Dance in Huntington from 2004-2014 under artistic director and former Rockette Danielle Kimmins before moving to Eglevsky in 2013.

This year’s Eglevsky’s production of “The Nutcracker” will feature new choreography by Maurice Brandon Curry, the company’s executive artistic director.

Curry said in a press release that he wanted to explore deeper into the characters of Clara and Drosselmeyer, while “enriching the production with more theatricality and many new dramatic elements.”

“In September, they had an audition at Eglevsky Ballet School in Bethpage and she didn’t audition for a specific role she just went in for the audition and the artistic director chose her for the role of Clara,” Gavilla said.

“I was shocked because we didn’t know if he wanted an younger Clara or if he wanted an older Clara,” Sarah said about landing the role. “Then a week later, the cast list got posted and I got the role for Clara. I was very excited about that.”

With the role sealed, Sarah is looking forward to performing a pas de deux, which in French translates into “step of two.” Sarah will be partnering with 15-year-old Matthew Herman, of Syosset, who is portraying the Nutcracker Prince.

“I’m doing partnering with the prince this year, which I’ve never performed partnering on stage before,” Sarah said, adding that she’s excited to perform the more difficult choreography as well.

“Overall, I’m really excited and I hope that everything goes well,” Sarah said. “I know that this is going to be a great performance.”

In years to come, Sarah hopes to pursue ballet as a profession, noting that her lifelong dream is to be part of the New York City Ballet.

“It’s been amazing [and] the things that I’ve gotten to do are incredible,” Sarah said, regarding her ballet career. “I’m just really happy that I’ve gotten this far.”