NAHANT — Mia Schena, 12, will perform her fifth show in Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” at the Boston Opera House before more than 2,000 audience members Saturday night.
The seventh grader is one of 250 young Boston Ballet School students from New England chosen for the performance from more than 400 who auditioned.
“It’s very important to me,” said Schena. “It feels like I’m able to do something that professionals do.”
Schena began dancing with Boston Ballet at the Lynch/Van Otterloo YMCA in Marblehead at 3 years old, said her mother Roxanne, who was also a dancer but said she never had the opportunity to dance in “The Nutcracker.”
“I wanted to make sure she had the opportunity, if she liked doing it, and set her up with the right avenues,” she said.
It was about three years ago, when her classes started getting more difficult, that Mia became passionate about ballet, she said.
In “The Nutcracker,” Mia takes on the role of a party boy, which was challenging because girls and boys perform ballet very differently, she said.
“It was new,” she said. “Girls don’t do jumps — we have point class two days a week.”
She spends about 30 minutes on stage during each show, and, in addition to dancing, her part includes a lot of acting. In one scene, she pretends to be involved in a snowball fight.
Three different casts take turns taking on various roles during Boston Ballet’s 44 performances of a story written in 1816 by German author E.T.A. Hoffman. Some take on the roles of toy soldiers, reindeer, lambs, while others play baby mice, polichinelles, and party children.
The classic story is centered around a young girl and her favorite Christmas toy, the nutcracker, that comes alive. After defeating the evil mouse king, the nutcracker whisks the girl away to a magical kingdom of dolls.
Mikko Nissinen and Robert Perdziola’s re-envisioned production of the classic ballet premiered in 2012. It was the first time Boston Ballet built a new production entirely from the ground up, engaging craftsmen and women from across the country, according to a statement from Boston Ballet.
All children performing in the show are students of Boston Ballet School and started rehearsing in October, coached by Nissinen, school director Margaret Tracey, Children’s Ballet Master Miranda Weese, and the school’s faculty.
The show opened at the Boston Opera House on Nov. 24 and will continue through New Year’s Eve.