Darien resident Alison Enters, a third grader at Hindley School, has been dancing since the age of 2. She started in classes at the Darien Arts Center, and by 4, she was enrolled at Ballet School NY, the training arm of the New York Theatre Ballet in New York City.
Alison will be traveling and performing for her second year with the company of Ballet School NY as it stages "The Nutcracker," the quintessential holiday show. Last year, Alison was a Sugarplum Fairy, and will reprise that role, as well as take on one as a sheep.
The 8-year-old said she's "proud" to be in "The Nutcracker" and looks forward to being a sheep.
"The sheep is a bigger part and I think it's more exciting," Alison said with a smile.
She said if she could have any role in "The Nutcracker," she would want to be the Pink Sheep.
"She's very cute and makes people laugh," Alison said.
Alison takes the train into the city for ballet lessons on Wednesdays and Fridays, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays she does gymnastics at the Darien YMCA.
"I like Mondays because I don't have to go anywhere," Alison said.
Her mother, Tracy, said once it becomes rehearsal time, usually in October, for "The Nutcracker," Alison is traveling to New York City up to four times a week, adding that even with the busyness it's still fun.
The Ballet School NY version of "The Nutcracker" is an hour long, and runs from November to December in various places on the East Coast.
"The other `Nutcracker' in the city is almost three hours long, so this one attracts a lot of families," Tracy said.
When asked if she ever gets tired of sometimes having four shows in two days, Alison happily shook her head "no."
Alison said dancing is something she'd want to do forever, and she would love to dance professionally.
While Tracy admitted her daughter did "have a lot of energy," she seemed to have a differing opinion.
"I think she's doing 14 shows this season," Tracy said. "But it is tiring. Her call time is 9 a.m. so we have to leave Darien fully made up by 6:45 the latest."
While touring with the company last year, Alison missed about eight days of school. Tracy added that the director cast Alison primarily for the weekend shows, so she'll only be missing three days.
Last year, the company traveled around New York and New Jersey and even as far as New Hampshire. But this season, the ballet troupe is staying more local.
Tracy said she believes dancing has been really good for Alison.
"She's a little reserved, and I think [dancing] has really helped her come out of her shell," Tracy said. "She gets to perform without talking. When she gets up on stage you wouldn't even know she's the same person."
In the show, Alison said, she performs maneuvers like arabesques, but her favorite dance move is the pas de chat, which is a leap.
The Enters have lived in Darien for seven years, and Tracy and her husband both have degrees in architecture.
While Tracy did the typical year of ballet like most young girls, she was never anywhere near Alison's level.
Tracy said introducing Alison and her sister, Annalise, "to the arts has always been a priority for me," adding that Ballet School NY has "an amazing diversity to it."
Diana Byer, the director of Ballet School NY, provides many opportunities for those less fortunate to come to her school, according to Tracy.
"She'll hold auditions at homeless shelters and offer some students full scholarships to the schools," Tracy said. "That's one of the reasons we do it. We love Darien, but I think it's important to show them all the possibilities in the world, and the different lives people live."
Tracy works on the parents committee for Ballet School NY, primarily on fundraising ideas for students who are offered full scholarships. Ballet School NY will do community outreach shows and it will "do a bunch of free shows for students all around the city and give them an introduction to ballet," Tracy said. The parents committee also raises money to fund those free shows. she said.
"[Byer] is really amazing," Tracy said.
Alison is performing at the Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th St, in New York on Dec. 8, 15, 16 and 22, and at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, 1 SOPAC Way in South Orange, in New Jersey on Dec. 2.
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