Lilla Simmons ’23 was recently selected to play Clara, the lead role in the Nutcracker, for the holiday performances at Macon’s Grand Opera House. We wanted to touch base with her about this wonderful accomplishment and her love for dance.

When did you start taking dance lessons?

I started dancing when I was three years old.

Do you take other forms of dance? Which is your favorite and why?

I have taken ballet, pointe, jazz, and contemporary. Of course pointe and ballet are my favorite, but I really like contemporary because it is helpful with ballet and gives my toes a break because in contemporary I dance barefoot.

How many years have you performed in the Nutcracker and what other roles have you had?

This will be my 8th year performing in the Nutcracker. I have been a Toy Soldier, a Jester, a Little Girl twice, Columbine, Snow, and Marzipan.

What is the most challenging part of playing Clara?

I am just getting started with long rehearsals, so I am not sure what the hardest part will be. I think because I am on stage most of the ballet that it will be challenging to stay in character for that length of time.  I am just super excited to learn this part and keep practicing in order to do the best job that I can.

What do you love most about performing in the Nutcracker?

I love dancing in the Nutcracker because it is a beautiful ballet that is around Christmas time. It is a tradition for me, and it is festive for all of us dancers involved. I get to dance with my friends, and I especially love dancing with the professionals too!  They come as far from places like New York, California, and even London!  It is very exciting!

Why do you enjoy dancing?

I love dancing because I am most comfortable when I am dancing. I love to work hard and push my body each day. Most people don’t know that it is a strenuous work out. I always feel better about myself after I have attended class. Ballet is a beautiful form of art that is very graceful. I really love the lines and movements of ballet, and I am thankful for my talents every day.