Anna Weis is one of the stars of this year’s “Nutcracker.” (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Anna Weis is one of the stars of this year’s “Nutcracker.” (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Sharing the stage

Teeny mice, soldiers and young sugar plum fairies dance alongside a teenage Clara and Fritz in this growing holiday tradition, the fourth-annual “Nutcracker Short ’N Suite” at Woodrow Wilson High School.

Numerous “Nutcracker” performances are danced around the city every Christmas, but there is often a serious time commitment and cost involved in these intricate performances. Woodrow’s “Short ’N Suite” allows families to participate without spending every night for weeks rehearsing, and hundreds of dollars on lessons and costumes.

Students from all over the Woodrow Wilson feeder pattern are invited to sign up and dance a role in the performance, providing exposure to the arts for families who may not have access to high-level instruction. The tradition was begun by former Woodrow dance teacher Lisa Moya, and is continued this year by Monica Reyes, who is in her first year with the dance program at Woodrow Wilson.

The hour-long show is a good fit for families who may not have the time or attention spans for the full ballet, but the ornate costumes and quality dancers give the performance a sense of professionalism.

According to Michele Matney, whose daughter is a dancer at Woodrow, last year’s performance included 60 elementary students, 25 students from J.L. Long and nearly 100 high school dancers and she hopes to have at least that many again this year.

Tickets for the show help fund the dance program, and will specifically go toward dancers attending the National High School Dance Festival at Point Park University in Pittsburg this winter. While at the prestigious dance university, Woodrow dancers will perform and be evaluated for dance scholarships and summer intensives while attending different genres of classes. Usually, students have to pay around $1,500 for airfare, lodging and attendance, but because of funds raised by the “Nutcracker,” Matney hopes students will be able to attend the trip for as little as $300.

“Nutcracker Short ’N Suite” runs Dec. 7 and 8 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 9 at noon at Woodrow Wilson High School. On Dec. 9 at 10:30 a.m., neighbors are invited to the Land of Sweets Breakfast, where they can take pictures with costumed Nutcracker characters and Santa Claus. Tickets for the show range from $6-$10 and the breakfast is $5. Tickets can be bought online at or at the door.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.