Where it all began: once a Claremonter, now a New Yorker, a ballerina comes home
by Andrew Alonzo | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mira Nadon will tread a familiar stage this weekend for Inland Pacific Ballet’s annual staging of “The Nutcracker,” a holiday classic that tells the story of Clara, a young girl who receives a magical nutcracker on Christmas Eve.
Nadon, a former Claremont resident and IPB trainee turned pro with New York City Ballet, will be dancing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy on Saturday, December 16 and Sunday, December 17, during 2 p.m. performances at Bridges Auditorium, 450 N. College Way, Claremont. Tickets begin at $37 at ci.ovationtix.com.
“It’s super special,” said Nadon said of returning back home for the performance, adding there’s nostalgia in the air.
Nadon was 11 when she danced the role of Clara for IPB’s show in 2012. “It’s always fun to look back on that time,” said the now 22-year-old. “I believe that 2012 was the first year I performed Clara and growing up it’s kind of every little girls dream to get to be in ‘The Nutcracker’ and to get to be Clara, who’s the main role that the children have the option of playing. Most dancers have grown up dancing all the roles in ‘The Nutcracker’ because there’s so many roles for children and you kind of grow up through them and go through the ranks.”
Nadon was just 5 when she began her training with IBP.
“I took it really seriously, but it wasn’t anything that I really thought more of than just a hobby and something I enjoyed doing,” she said.
At 13 she aced her audition for the five-week summer program at New York’s School of American Ballet. “I had heard that it was a really great program from some friends who had gone and I’d also learned some ballets that were choregraphed by George Balanchine and I fell in love with them,” she said. “Balanchine founded the School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet, so I kind of felt a connection to those ballets and really wanted to audition for his school.” She took part in SAB’s summer programs in 2014 and 2015. It was the first time she saw so many gifted dancers from around the world in one place.
“Before that I didn’t really know how I compared to dancers who were at a high caliber,” she said. “In my head, being a professional dancer was a very far away distant land and then actually seeing how I fit into that world was the first time that I kind of realized that it’d actually be possible for me.”
In 2015, the then 14-year-old was invited to take part in SAB’s winter program, which was a big step forward. She lived in the company’s New York City dorms while her family remained in Claremont.
“Then about two years and a couple months later I got into New York City Ballet, and have been here ever since,” Nadon said. “I got in the company when I was 16. I ended up graduating high school a year early.”
Nadon simultaneously danced with NYCB while attending high school at Professional Children’s School in Manhattan, an institute for working child performers.
During an SAB end of year performance in 2017 she realized she was a professional ballet dancer.
After high school, Nadon enrolled at Fordham University in New York, where she’s about halfway through her undergraduate studies.
Recalling her journey, Nadon realized what a fast track she has been on since beginning at IPB, which she credited with preparing her for such a demanding career.
“We did ‘The Nutcracker’ every year,” she said. “We had recitals every year. We got to dance in all the productions that the company did. So I feel like that really helped me out in terms of getting experience being on stage and learning how to perform because once you get into the [NYCB] company, you’re just really thrown into it.
“I found out on [a] Monday that I was getting into the company, showed up to rehearsals on Tuesday and then two weeks later I was on stage. It’s kind of a sink or swim moment, but it’s just what you’ve been training for and hoping you’re ready and you just sort of find out in the moment.”
Nadon has amassed hundreds of performances since. Her breakout role was as the “Tall Girl” in Balanchines’s “Rubies,” part of the three-act ballet “Jewels,” that premiered in the fall of 2019.
“It was a role where I had never really done something so neo-classical and I honestly didn’t even know I could do it or if I’d be good at it,” Nadon said. “But someone trusted me and thought I could. I’m very grateful for that but that was kind of the first time that I had a big principal role and people took notice.”
With every new show, Nadon hopes to bring viewers “some sense of happiness, some peace or a way to reflect on their lives, because that’s kind of what I feel when I’m dancing.”
Once IPB’s “The Nutcracker” wraps at Bridges this weekend, Nadon will return to New York to begin training for NYCB’s winter season, which opens January 23, 2024, with “Tribute to Robbins.” Visit nycballet.com for upcoming shows and information.