NFM Academy for the Arts’ performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ breaks new ground
It seems every year, the cast for the North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts’s production of “The Nutcracker” gets bigger and bigger. And that was the case again this year.
More than 300 students participated in this year’s performance, the most ever. And they were joined by about 10 alumni from the school who now all attend North Fort Myers High School.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the NFMAA presenting the ballet, the school invited back dancers from the past to take the stage once again in front of another nearly packed house Friday.
As always, the kids got to work on the show in front of their classmates Tuesday, with two shows, one for the elementary school, the other for grades six through eight.
“It’s a great experience for all these kids who are in the show from kindergarten to the eighth grade. Many of them have been in multiple roles so they have the experience,” principal Thomas Millins said. “These kids started as gingerbreads and have advanced to the top spots.”
Ashley Palomino, an eighth-grader playing the lead role of Clara, was performing for the fourth time in the ballet, starting as a mouse and became a flower, then an angel and Arabian last year before getting the lead this time.
“I started crying when I learned I got the role, and I didn’t expect it. I love how fun it is and how you get to act like a child. It’s happy,” Palomino said. “You learn that dreams can sometimes come true, and it makes you feel young again.”
Canon Dobson is the Nutcracker in his fifth performance. He started as the child who broke the Nutcracker and progressed as a candy flute and Russian last year.
“It’s special to be the Nutcracker for the 10th anniversary. It’s great to come together and dance as a family,” Dobson said. “People can come together and have an imagination.”
Jordyn Barrett, a seventh-grader playing the Sugar Plum Fairy, has only performed in ‘The Nutcracker’ twice. She said she loves being surrounded by such talented people.
“The people and the choreography are amazing. It gives me more training and the ability to get ready to get right on stage,” Barrett said. “I play the ambassador of the Land of Sweets so I’m the one who welcomes her when she goes back to sleep. ‘The Nutcracker’ brings us all together.”
The alumni did not perform Tuesday, but remembered fondly being on stage and working on such a show.
“All these years I’ve been doing it. I love it and how the whole family and group comes together,” said Anneliese Marrero, a freshman at North High who performed five times at NFMAA.
Lidia Campusano said she missed doing the show because this is her favorite time of the year.
“I did ‘The Nutcracker’ eight straight years and was first angel my last year. I love the spirit of it and how it makes everyone happy. To see the smiles on the kids’ faces when you’re onstage makes it special,” Campusano said.