This Christmas, when most 11-year-olds are enjoying winter break, maybe opening presents and spending time with family, Chloe Ellis will be hundreds of miles from home.
Don't feel too bad for her, though. She's landed the part of Clara in the "Nutcracker" segment of Radio City Music Hall's "The Radio City Christmas Spectacular," for performances in Durham and Boston.
"I went to New York for the New York City Dance Alliance," a weeklong workshop in July, to take master classes, said Chloe. Both of her dance teachers - Rebecca Massey Wiley, owner of Piedmont School of Music and Dance in Kannapolis, and Sadie Roberts Daughton, owner of the Academy of Dance and Fine Arts in Mooresville - had urged her to go.
At the end of that week, Radio City had the final audition for the role of Clara.
Of the more than 300 girls who had tried out for the part of Clara, 26 were named finalists, including Chloe. They were told they'd hear something by Aug. 1.
Six days later, she said, "I found out I was Clara."
She was among six girls chosen to perform as Clara, two for each of three productions. Radio City Music Hall will produce the show in four different cities: New York, Durham, Boston and Nashville, Tenn. (Chloe's cast will perform the show in Durham and Boston.)
In August, Chloe also auditioned for and attended the summer ballet intensive workshop at the American Ballet Theatre, one of the nation's most prestigious professional ballet companies. Wiley formerly danced with ABT.
Chloe will begin practice with the Radio City group Oct. 25, and her first show will open Nov. 10 in Durham. There will be two to four shows each day in Durham through Nov. 27.
Being a professional dancer has been Chloe's dream for as long as she can remember. Her mother, Tammy Ellis, said that of all her five children, Chloe has been a different kid.
She's been taking dance since she was 2, both at the Academy of Dance and Fine Arts in Mooresville and at Wiley's studio. Ballet has become her favorite dance genre.
"I definitely want to become a ballerina," Chloe said.
Now Chloe will be a professional dancer, even if it's just for a couple of months. Radio City Music Hall will pay her. It also will provide a tutor to the sixth-grader from Mount Mourne School in Mooresville, and will provide housing, airfare and food for her and her mother. Tammy will travel along with Chloe, providing stability and reality.
At Christmas, her family will fly to Boston for a week, where Chloe will be performing Dec. 2-28.
Chloe first performed in "The Nutcracker" when she was 5: She was a gingersnap.
Everybody has to start somewhere.
"I had my eye on Clara then," Chloe admitted.
Editor's note: This story is reprinted from the Sept. 7 issue of Mooresville News to correct several errors.