Santa Monica Student to Dance Clara role In Westside Ballet's "The Nutcracker" at the Broad

Student dancer Nadia Hofer shares the stage with homegrown protégé Daniel Zhou, returning in her Sugar Plum debut


November 25, 2021

Todd Lechtick

Nadia Hofer (13) is cast in the coveted role of Clara for Westside Ballet's "The Nutcracker." Pictured with Associate Ar-tistic Director Caprice Walker.

By Jewels Solheim-Roe

Westside Ballet's presentation of The Nutcracker has been a beloved Los Angeles classic since 1973, providing the perfect opportunity to introduce children to classical music and dance, and in so doing, showcasing the value of the performance arts––a point considered more poignant than ever after the collective nearly two-year drought of live entertainment and arts events throughout the pandemic. The whole family can expect to be entranced once more by the production's lavish scenes and costumes, involving world-class professional dancers performing alongside pre-professional and student performers.

Nadia Hofer, 13, an eighth grader at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, has been dancing with Westside Ballet of Santa Monica since she was 7. She has been cast in the coveted role of Clara.

"I think it's really important for dancers to have confidence in themselves and their abilities, while still knowing that each dancer has something they need to work on," says Hofer. "Dancers must have strong focus during class and rehearsal as well as a lot of persistence, determination and the ability to memorize steps and pick up counts. To ensure I stay strong and fit enough to perform and dance such long hours, I add in practice and stretching at home. I also work my feet at home."

The 2021 production, which opens Nov. 27 and will have a two-weekend run, also features over 40 other young dancers who reside or go to school in Santa Monica. The cast includes a total of 67 pre-professional student dancers.

The students will be sharing the stage with professional dancers, such as Principal Guest Artist Chasen Greenwood, who is accompanying the Sugar Plum Fairy (Santa Monica native Daniella Zhou in her professional debut) as her Cavalier. Greenwood was featured in Dancer Magazine as "one to watch" after completing a nationwide tour as a soloist with State Street Ballet.

Zhou, the most recent protégé of Artistic Director Martine Harley's artistic team and a former Santa Monica high school student, danced with Westside Ballet for 9 years––until this August, when she was offered a place with the Pre-Professional Division at Miami City Ballet for their 2021/2022 season.

Todd Lechtick

Debuting in the principal role of Sugar Plum Fairy, Santa Monica native Daniella Zhou, a former Santa Monica High School student.

This year's production marks Westside's return to the live stage for the first time in two years. During the COVID-19 hiatus in 2020, the company created a black box theater abbreviated virtual performance.

The Nutcracker production is made possible in part by grants from Los Angeles County, the City of Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades Woman's Club –– and sponsorships from local Santa Monica individuals, businesses, and organizations such as Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute, The Huntley Hotel, Lyft Scooters, Urth Caffe, Morley Builders, and more.

"The Nutcracker" at The Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

Saturday, Nov. 27 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m .; Sunday, Nov. 28 at 1 p.m .; Saturday, Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m .; and Sunday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. All tickets are $50.

Tickets may be purchased online at or by phone (additional fees apply) at (800) 595 – 4849 (4TIX).


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