LAUSD students come to see the San Pedro Ballet, offered with the aim of educating about dance and art

On Friday morning the Warner Grand Theater, in the city of San Pedro, had almost a total full. At exactly 10:00 a.m., the curtain was raised to kick off the classic Christmas libretto “The Nutcracker” (The Nutcracker) by Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

This time the audience was very special. From their seats, hundreds of little children were impressed by the story of a girl who befriends a nutcracker – a soldier – who arrives on Christmas Eve comes alive to fight an evil Mouse King who wanted to hurt him.

And it wasn't for more. For many children this was the first time they attended such a staging and could not get out of their astonishment.

The two-act Christmas play was full of colorful outfits, special effects, costumes, music and especially the difficult but phenomenal art of ballet.

The 9-year-old Emiliano Torres said he was surprised to see so many people participate in the work.

"I've never been here before and I'm in shock," said the student who is in third grade at Eshelman Avenue Elementary in the city of Lomita.

Emiliano Torres was one of hundreds of students who witnessed the play The Nutcracker. (Jacqueline García / The Opinion)

Torres was one of the more than 1,400 students of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), in the southern part of the city, who were invited to witness the iconic Christmas play.

Her classmate, Michelle Ramírez, also 9, said she had not seen a play before and her parents were very excited that she had the opportunity to attend.

“I really like the part where they are dancing, I find it very beautiful,” said the girl, referring to the dancers who, without losing the compass, danced on the toes of their feet.

New experiences

For the fifth consecutive year, 18 schools in South Los Angeles – going from Watts to San Pedro – were chosen thanks to a partnership between the San Pedro Ballet and LAUSD; In addition to non-profit organizations, to let children know about the art of ballet.

Lora Claudill, spokesperson for LAUSD and principal of Leland Elementary, gave life to this association with the San Pedro Ballet. She believes that the arts can become an option for some students and a salvation for others.

"We want to let them know that there is more to school than math, science and language," he said. “When you witness the emotion of the students when they enter a theater for the first time, you can't help but get excited. This magical event opens their eyes to new experiences and for some it even creates an artistic passion. ”

The director said she likes to see children when they arrive at the historic theater, built in 1931 and are impressed not only by the play but also with the place.

One of the high school students, Sophia Martin, was one of the girls who was mainly impacted by theater architecture.

"It's very beautiful, the roof is wonderful," said the 11-year-old Dodson Middle School.

"And the play is very funny … I think it will give me an idea to choose dance in my next elective class."

The Nutcracker also had the participation of student actors from LAUSD.

Claudill said that a few days before the play, she sent an informational brochure to the students so they would know what the play is about and what happens between the mouse and the nutcracker.

LAUSD students enjoy a free presentation of The Nutcracker. (Jacqueline García / The Opinion)

From LAUSD to the stage

Several students agreed that when they saw The Nutcracker they were motivated to dabble in art. This is something that Cindy Bradley, artistic director of the San Pedro Ballet, enjoys listening to.
“This is my favorite day of the year. We give them a wider experience where they can decide to venture into the dance one day or be a ballet enthusiast, ”he said.

As an example he presented one of the main characters of The Nutcracker, Enrique Anaya – who is the handsome young man who appears in the world of dolls.

Anaya, 19, of Mexican roots, said he was very proud to represent Latinos, especially when he himself wasn't sure he wanted to dance ballet at the beginning.

Enrique Anaya, 19, is one of the main characters of The Nutcracker. (Jacqueline García / The Opinion)

“I was not a dancer, but I have always had flexibility and it was not until I started dancing hip hop that they saw that‘ this child is like very elastic, ’” Anaya said during the break from the play.

At that time, the young man studied at the Humanities and Arts Academy of Los Angeles (HARTS) High School in Harbor City, which is part of LAUSD.

His teacher, who was impressed to see him dance, decided to take him with Bradley who from that moment took him under his tutelage and taught him the best of ballet.

"I said:‘ Well you have to try, "said the young man.

Between doubts and personal obstacles Anaya continued the arduous training to climb steps until she reached the main role.

“I never imagined getting where I am. I started doing the doll part (with a mask) but I really wanted to be the character in the white suit and finally I got it, ”added the young man

For five years, the San Pedro City Ballet has allowed thousands of children and community organizations to watch the show for free, including LAUSD students.

LAUSD students enjoyed a free presentation of The Nutcracker. (Jacqueline García / The Opinion)

San Pedro City Ballet's mission is to provide dance and accessibility education for dancing in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Tickets were distributed to schools in the surrounding area and to local charities.

The work will have additional presentations for the general public on December 13, 14 and 15. To find more information visit


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