NEW CANAAN — A decade is a long time to commit to anything, especially for teenagers. Local high school seniors Sophie Graham and Colleen Brereton know this type of commitment well.
For over 10 years, both girls have been performing in New England Dance Theater’s annual winter production of “The Nutcracker,” one of the longest-running productions in New England. This year is the company’s 32nd.
Equally impressive as their commitment to dance is their commitment to each other. Having performed together since second grade, the two girls, along with the three other seniors in the dance company, have formed a tight bond that extends beyond the dance studio on Main Street in New Canaan.
“It’s nice to have people who appreciate how hard we work,” said Brereton, a senior at Darien High School.
Now the girls are preparing for their final “Nutcracker” performance with the company with which they’ve spent their childhood.
“It’s going to be an interesting and unique experience,” Brereton, 17, said. “It’s bittersweet: Sweet because we got to this point, but bitter because it’s over.”
This will be Brereton’s 11th “Nutcracker” performance and the 12th for Graham, a senior at New Canaan High School. Though the girls have been working on the show every September to December for years, they said they never really tire of it. This is due, in part, to the new roles they play each year. Brereton will be playing Clara in this year’s production, while Graham will be reprising her role as the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Though she’s played the part before, Graham, 17, said this year she is focused on portraying the husband-wife relationship between the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier, whereas last year she concentrated on building stamina to play the part.
“I love working hard at something,” she said. “After the performance, it feels good to know I worked so hard. I’m a quiet person, but when I’m on stage, I can express something I can’t through words.”
The girls said each year’s show has a new twist on it to make it different from the last. This year, for the first time, the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra will be providing live music.
“You’re alway doing something new and exciting,” Graham said.
Casting and rehearsals for the show begin in September. From then through November, the dancers commit to two-hour practices Monday through Thursday, as well as rehearsal from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends. They rehearse the scenes individually at first, then slowly begin to piece them together as the opening of the two-hour show draws closer.
“It’s fun being here during rehearsals and seeing it come together,” Graham said.