Student leaps into lead role of Nutcracker ballet

Payton McKeehan

Lights on trees, wreaths on doors, mistletoe hung overhead while visions of sugarplums dance in their heads. The Nutcracker is a classic production associated with the holidays and family time. Suzanne’s School of Dance performs the Nutcracker every year in the Rudder Auditorium on the Texas A&M campus. Sophomore Hannah Broussard was named the lead, Clara, in the production.

Auditions for the production were held in August and performers have attended practice for six hours every Saturday since then. Hannah has been a part of the Nutcracker production before in other roles, but this is her first year in the starring role.

“I liked my parts last year,” Hannah said, “but it’s definitely an honor to be the lead role and it’s good to try different things.”

Tammy Broussard, Hannah’s mother, could not be more proud of Hannah in all that she has achieved including earning the lead in the Nutcracker ballet.

“I am most proud of Hannah’s dedication and being committed to each and everything she’s involved in,” Broussard said. “Not including her regular dance schedule, performing the part of Clara in the Nutcracker required an additional 80 hours of rehearsal time. During the past 10 weeks in preparation for the nutcracker, Hannah was also in another production of Peter and the Wolf and has commitments as an officer in 4H, varsity cheerleading spirit officer, and was able to maintain all As.”

The casting judges recognized Hannah’s dedication during her audition and saw potential in her abilities.

“Hannah was cast as Clara from a panel of judges and artist staff due to her technical ability, stage presence, and maturity,” director of the Nutcracker, Suzanne Moreau said. “Size usually is also a factor considering Clara has partnering roles.”

Throughout the production Hannah continued to improve as her dance skills were required to move to a new level.

“[Hannah’s] consistent commitment to her ballet training has helped her grow technically as a dancer,” Moreau said. “We were very pleased with the technical growth we saw in Hannah as she clearly rose to the challenges that working with a professional dancer requires.”

Hannah’s mother has watched her since she put on her first pair of ballerina slippers at age 2, started competing when she was 5, assisting when she was 10, and teaching when she was 12.

“Hannah is an independent soloist and she choreographs her own solos and duets,” Broussard said. “Hannah has already had some great opportunities to work with some very talented artists in the dance industry, I look forward to seeing what’s in store for her future.”

Hannah’s mother is her biggest fan and has watched her work to improve as a dancer over the years through self discipline and hard work.

“Hannah is her biggest critic and she is very hard on herself,” Broussard said. “ She uses video of practices and critiques to help her make corrections to improve. When it’s time to perform, I know she’s done all she can do to prepare. Before every performance we always pray together that God will allow her to do her best.”

The experience of performing on such a large stage has many upsides, but sometimes the best parts are unexpected.

“My favorite part was all the little kids that were involved with it,” Hannah said. “Whenever they would see me they would say ‘Oh there’s Clara, Hi Clara!’ and it was like they thought I was famous or something.”

With this experience Hannah recognizes opportunity the Nutcracker performance has given her in both improving her skills and learning to cope with a large stage performance.

“Before I went on I was very very nervous,” Hannah said, “once I actually started dancing [the nervousness] all went away. The whole time I was telling myself that this is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity so don’t be nervous just enjoy it and have fun.”