When she was merely a baby snow angel, tiptoeing her way across a ballet stage, visions of the “Sugar Plum Fairy” began to dance in her head — they have been there ever since.

On Saturday, Jennifer Stanley will dance the coveted dance of the famed fairy in Christy Leonard’s latest presentation of the “Nutcracker Ballet.”

Leonard, a local dance instructor who stages the holiday classic every other year, will offer two performances from the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Fine Arts Center.

Stanley will be among a handful of students to make a fifth appearance in the show.

The 15-year-old Miami High School student will bring a dozen years of dance experience to the stage as she takes on the challenging part.

As the teen donned her costume for a recent dress rehearsal, she said she is not terribly worried about the dance steps.

“I have known them since I was a little girl,” Stanley said.

However, her nerves are rattling a bit at the thought of knowing that all eyes will be on her when she dances the 3-minute solo of the “Sugar Plum Fairy.”

“It feels like an eternity,” she said.

The challenge of the role, according to Stanley, comes not only in overcoming the jitters, but in recognizing that there is a place of responsibility that comes with the part.

“You have to be a role model,” Stanley said. “All those kids are looking up.”

It has been 10 years since her snow angel days and she remembers being intensely drawn to the premier role by then-fairy Chelsea Leonard.

“I set a goal then,” Stanley said.

Thousands of hours of practice and numerous “Nutcracker” roles have engaged Stanley as she danced her way to her dream.

The challenge now comes in repeating the role.

She has two years to refine the part before the opportunity arrives again to dance the role for Leonard’s production.

Leonard decided many years ago that the production is much too large to tackle on an annual basis.

“I needed a rest in between,” Leonard said.

The show is large and all-consuming, Leonard explained.

Stanley, however, would repeat the role at any opportunity.

“I would do it every year if I could,” Stanley said.


The show is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the NEO Fine Arts Auditorium.

Tickets are available at the Dance Academy in Miami.