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3 Maryland youth shine in holiday performances

Erin Diehl, 15, of Severna Park is about to realize a lifelong dream. The ballerina will dance the role of Clara in the Chesapeake Ballet Company’s production of “The Nutcracker” this holiday season.

“Everyone knows the story of The Nutcracker. And every little girl wants to be Clara. It’s always been this distant dream of mine,” she says.

During the holiday season, many families attend a concert, play or performance to get in the seasonal spirit. Behind the magic of these performances are actors, singers and dancers — many of them youth — who train for months to prepare. Whether acting, singing or pirouetting across the stage, these young performers capture the spirit of the season with their extraordinary talents.

Here are the stories of three Maryland youth who will be in the spotlight this holiday season.

Dancing in The Nutcracker

Performers Erin Clara WWhen Erin Diehl auditioned for “The Nutcracker” last summer, she never imagined she would end up as the lead.

“I honestly didn’t expect it at all,” she says.

Erin has danced “The Nutcracker” with the Chesapeake Ballet Company for eight years in smaller roles, so dancing the part of Clara is the culmination of years of hard work.

A sophomore at Severna Park High School, Erin has been dancing since she was 3.
“Dance makes me happy and gives me a purpose,” she says. “To be a dancer, you have to be focused and train from a very young age.”

Erin takes classes four days a week at Dance Academy in Severna Park. She also rehearses with her high school’s dance company two afternoons a week. Her full schedule can be a challenge, but Erin says it’s worth it.

“I get so excited for each new show,” she says. “I can’t wait to learn my part, and I try to learn the whole thing before rehearsals even begin.”
Erin has danced roles in “Snow White” “The Snow Queen” and “Cinderella” for the Chesapeake Ballet Company. She loves the teamwork that goes into each production.

“Everyone enjoys the spotlight, but what I love most is the lead up,” she says. “I love tech week and watching all the elements come together — the costumes, the music, the sets.”

Erin’s commitment impresses her teachers as well.

“Erin knows what she needs to do before she even steps in the door,” says Barbara Haskell, director of the Chesapeake Ballet Company. “She’s that dedicated.”

Dmitri Malikov, the company’s artistic director, has high expectations for Erin’s future.

“Erin is a very dedicated dancer and she’s been on the right path since she was very little,” he says. “I certainly believe she has the potential to become a professional dancer someday.”

Erin hopes to audition for a professional ballet company after high school.
“For me, the ultimate goal would be to dance in a classically based professional ballet company,” she says. “Dance is my life.”

Chesapeake Ballet Company’s “The Nutcracker”
Children’s Theatre of Annapolis
1661 Bay Head Road, Annapolis
Dec. 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 1 and 4 p.m.
Tickets: Adults, $20; younger than 12, $16
443-924-4358, chesapeakeballetcompany.com

Click next below for the story of Severna Park actress Charlize Lefler.

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