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Ballet holiday: Snoqualmie girl to dance in PNW company’s ‘Nutcracker’

Ballerina-at-home Cassidy Johnson giggles her way through a conversation about her upcoming performance in the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker.”  - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo
Ballerina-at-home Cassidy Johnson giggles her way through a conversation about her upcoming performance in the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker.”
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Cassidy Johnson can’t decide what the best thing about dancing in this year’s production of “The Nutcracker” by Pacific Northwest Ballet will be.

On one hand, “I get to be on a big stage and dance with other dancers,” she said. On the other hand, “I shoot cannons, and march. And salute!”

She is sure about one thing in The Nutcracker. “It’s awesome!” she declared.

Cassidy, the 9-year-old daughter of Michael and Alisa Johnson of Snoqualmie, will dance in 19 performances of PNB’s traditional holiday show, which runs weekends from Nov. 26 through Dec. 27. She has been a ballet student for more than five years, and has been at PNB’s school for the last four years, so the idea of dancing in front of hundreds, maybe thousands of people, doesn’t scare her at all. Asked if she was nervous, her one-word response was “Nah!”

“She’s pretty brave,” said Alisa. “Last year when she danced at McCaw Hall, she was fine.”

Cassidy performed on the PNB’s stage then to an audience of “200 or so” (her parents thought it was more) for her graduation exercise after completing her Level 1 training. She is now Level 2, signified by the light blue leotard she wears for practice.

“Each level, you get to have a different color leotard,” Cassidy explained, and there are 12 levels. Will she make it through all 12 levels and colors? She strikes a dramatic thinking pose then gives a surprisingly grown-up answer. “I might... it just depends on how the other levels go.” Then she giggles and squirms in her chair some more.

Cassidy practices twice a week in Bellevue, and since winning the role of a toy soldier for the ballet, she also goes to Seattle for rehearsal once a week. It’s a busy schedule, even for her parents to keep track of, so they divided it.

“I’ve got the practices, he’s got the performances,” Alisa said.

Alisa and Cassidy spend a lot of time in the car, getting Cassidy to and from her events. Cassidy uses the time to read, sleep, or do homework from her classes at Cascade View Elementary, but her other hobby, the piano, has been put on hold.

The Nutcracker experience more than makes up for the loss, it seems. Cassidy talks excitedly about every aspect of her role, and describes in detail the arrival of the toy soldiers on stage. She’s near the beginning, in the “artillery, then it’s the infantry, then the officers and then the cavalry and then the baby mice, and then the mama mice....”

For more information on the Nutcracker, visit www.pnb.org/Season/10-11/Nutcracker.

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