Port local performs alongside NYC Ballet dancers in The Nutcracker
Fritz: Clara’s jealous younger brother who breaks the Nutcracker given to the children by Clara’s godfather, Uncle Drosselmeier. Port Washington resident Averie Masia takes on the role of Fritz in The Nutcracker at Hofstra University alongside special guest artists Daniel Ulbricht and Brittany Pollack of New York City Ballet on Dec. 15 and 16.
Accelerated seventh-grade student at Weber Middle School, Masia has been dancing since she was two years old. She began her ballet training at the Ohman School of Ballet, a division of New York Dance Theatre, at age six and is currently a Division 2/3 student.
“For my third birthday, all I wanted to do was be in The Nutcracker after I saw it at the Landmark on Main Street,” said 12-year-old Masia.
This year will be Masia’s sixth performance in Ohman’s The Nutcracker, one of Long Island’s largest productions of the classic. Over the years, Masia has been a baby mouse, angel, grandchild, party scene boy and girl, soldier, pollichenelle and trumpeteer. This year, Masia takes on three roles including Pollichenelle—a little clown—en pointe as White Mouse and a lead as Fritz.
“Fritz is a bratty little boy who is always annoying his sister Clara and wants to be center of attention,” said Masia of the role. “It’s a bigger part and a little more exciting because when the stage lights go on, you’re on with Clara and have more dancing.”
To get the part of Fritz, Masia went through tryouts and callbacks and spent about two months rehearsing. On Thursdays, Masia would practice with Clara for an hour and a half and then go to one of the three required classes for The Nutcracker performers. On Fridays and Saturdays, Masia would take her two other classes and rehearsals with the rest of the cast.
“I don’t get nervous a lot,” said Masia of how she feels on performance nights after her many rehearsals. “Sometimes I get nervous on the first night and then the second night I’m more calm. We work really hard, so we’re prepared and it feels really good to get on stage. My favorite part is just performing and getting to see all the people who came to see you and have the lights on you on stage.”
Masia will be performing on stage with New York City Ballet’s Ulbricht, who will play the Cavelier, and Pollack, who will play the Sugar Plum Fairy. Masia will also be performing in The Nutcracker with former New York City Ballet soloist Robert Maiorano as Clara’s mysterious godfather Herr Drosselmeier and Ohman School founder, ballet master and artistic director Frank Ohman, who will be playing the grandfather in the party scene that opens the ballet.
“It’s really cool especially because Mr. Ohman is going to be the grandfather,” said Masia of why the production is so exciting. “Daniel and Brittany are the Sugar Plum and Cavelier, which is really cool. They’re amazing. I look up to them.”
Over the years, Ohman has created original dances and scenes which have been incorporated into the ballet and set his production apart from others on Long Island. As a former student and soloist under George Balanchine, Ohman is one of the few authorized to use the original pas de deux choreography of his mentor.
“Mr. Ohman knew George Balanchine personally and gets to use original Sugar Plum choreography and you don’t see that in many other places,” said Masia.
New York Dance Theatre, under the direction of former New York City Ballet soloist Ohman, will present its 37th season of The Nutcracker at the John Cranford Adams playhouse at Hofstra University on Saturday, Dec. 15, and Sunday, Dec. 16, with performances each day at noon and 5 p.m. Masia will perform in the Saturday show at noon and in the Sunday show at 5 p.m. Tickets for the ballet are $42 ($32 for seniors and children 12 and under) and are available at www.ohmanballet.org or by calling 631-462-0964.