Allison Pendergraft decided more than a year ago that she wanted to dance the part of "Clara" in the 2008 production of "Nutcracker Ballet" and she has done just that.

Her place on stage comes after a year of dancing with a wooden nutcracker fashioned exactly as the one that "Clara" typically clutches in the famous holiday classic.

According to Christy Leonard, Pendergraft's dance instructor, the nutcracker that her young student will hold on stage today has been a faithful dance partner as Pendergraft sought and seized the role.

The tiny soldier will return to the stage with Pendergraft today as Dance Academy students offer the final performance of the biennial show.

"Clara," "Sugar Plum Fairy" and the full cast of "Nutcracker" characters danced Sunday at the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami Fine Arts Center.