Sugar plums: Westside Ballet, featuring 34 talented local dancers, will take to the stage beginning Sunday for the annual holiday tradition. Anne Slattery and Daniel Chiswick

Westside Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker” returns to the BroadStage in Santa Monica this weekend, complete with falling snow, a tree that grows on stage and 34 local dancers. 

Fourteen-year-old Santa Monica Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences student Sophie Wilson will play the role of main character Clara as she dances through the dazzling winter scenes. Wilson remembers being mesmerized by the performance as a young child. 

“We used to see the five o’clock shows, so by the time we got home it felt like a late night and it just felt very cozy and memorable,’’ she wrote in response to questions shared with the Daily Press. 

This will be Wilson’s sixth year on stage as a part of the show, but her first time as Clara and she said she was eager to take on the new role. 

“Learning new roles is very exciting because it helps me improve and it’s just simply enjoyable,” she said. “I also love having the opportunity to wear new costumes and this year I’m especially excited to wear the Clara costume.” 

Catia Boucher, a Samohi sophomore, will dance the part of the Snow Queen as well as several supporting roles. Boucher has been dancing with Westside Ballet since she was eight years old and said that “Nutcracker” season is always her favorite time of the year and loves seeing the show come to life on the stage.

“As much of a cliché as it is, hard work pays off and the feeling I get when it does is unlike any other,” she said. 

Fellow Samohi students Sawyer Jordan and Dylan Weinstein also play key roles in the show and together will perform new choreography for the Russian dance. 

In addition to the many young student dancers, the performance will also feature several professional artists including Hungarian dancer Maté Szentes as the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cavalier. LA-based Jack Virga Hall and Westside Ballet’s resident guest artist Evan Swenson will alternate in performing the Arabian pas de deux. 

“The lavish performances, featuring both world-class professional dancers and pre-professional and student performers, are an ideal way to expose children to classical music and dance,” Producer and Westside Board President Judith Meister said.

In that spirit, Westside will be putting on a private, abbreviated version of the ballet for close to a thousand Santa Monica-Malibu Unified and Los Angeles Unified school district elementary students, followed by a question-and-answer session with some of the dancers. 

“It’s really special because it’s the first time for a lot of these kids to really be exposed to classical art,” Director of Community Outreach Jewels Solheim-Roe said. 

She added that there will also be a special performance on Dec. 2 for local veterans and members of several different local organizations including the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica and the Venice Family Clinic, among others. 

Eight full-length performances open to the public for $50 will take place at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 26 and 27, and Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3 and 4. For more information and to purchase tickets visit:

Grace Adams is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University where she studied Spanish and journalism. She holds a Master’s degree in investigative journalism from City, University of London. She has experience...