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Redmond teen will take center stage in 'The Nutcracker'
Kaelyn Lefferts took her first dance lesson as a toddler.
It started as something she did just once a week with her mother and continued that way until a few years ago when she began dancing more frequently. Now at 13, the Redmond resident can be found in the studio six days a week, perfecting her barre work and practicing various routines.
All of her hard work has paid off as she will be playing young Clara in Emerald Ballet Theatre’s (EBT) production of “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 1 and 2. Both performances will begin at 2 p.m. at the Northshore Performing Arts Center at 18125 92nd Ave. N.E. in Bothell. Tickets range from $20-$35.
Although she has performed in the show in previous years, Kaelyn had been cast in smaller roles. This will be the first time she has been one of the leads.
“I thought it’d be fun to be Clara, but I didn’t really mind if I wasn’t,” she said, adding that she was pleased when she received the news after auditioning in September. “I was happy about it.”
Because this is her first leading role in a ballet, Kaelyn admitted that she is “excited and nervous” about her upcoming performance.
However, her mother, Terrel Lefferts, said Kaelyn has had lead acting roles as Alice and Wendy in her school’s productions of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan,” respectively.
“These experiences were really helpful for her,” Lefferts said.
And while she has performed in plays, Kaelyn hasn’t been bitten by the acting bug.
“I think acting in a play is fun, but I wouldn’t want to do it all the time,” she said.
Kaelyn, who attends Vista Academy at the Open Window School in Bellevue, mostly dances ballet, but also does some modern, tap, jazz and contemporary.
“I think it’s fun,” she said about why she has continued to dance for most her life.
While Kaelyn seems to spend more time dancing than not nowadays, her mother said it wasn’t always like that. Lefferts, who teaches dance through the City of Redmond’s Parks and Recreation Department, said her daughter initially joined EBT in Bellevue because the studio allowed her to continue dancing at her level while taking only one class a week. Lefferts said around 8 and 9 years old, most dance studios begin to ask more of their students and want them to take more classes. Lefferts said Kaelyn didn’t want that.
“She wasn’t really committed,” Lefferts said about her daughter.
Because Kaelyn has spent much fewer hours in the studio than her peers, who would have increased their practice time years before Kaelyn did, Lefferts said her daughter has had to play a bit of catchup to reach that same level.
“She’s worked really hard in the last few years,” Lefferts said, adding she is really proud of Kaelyn getting the role as young Clara.
In addition to dancing, Kaelyn enjoys horseback riding but said she doesn’t get to do it very often. Dance continues to be Kaelyn’s love but at 13, she is still not sure what the future holds.
“I want to keep dancing but I don’t know if I want to be part of a professional dance company or not,” she said.