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Little ballerinas enjoy sugar plums and tea
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Young girls ages 3 to 10 wearing tutus paraded across the rubber floors of Breanu’s University’s Fitness Center on Saturday morning for the Gainesville Ballet Company’s Nutcracker Mini-Camp and Tea Party.

Aspiring ballerinas all over North Georgia enjoyed crafts, dancing, pastries and a photo with the Sugar Plum Fairy herself.

The two-hour mini-camp involved bonding among young dancers and a practiced performance.

More than 50 girls and one boy showed up and were put into three groups based on age: the candy canes, the snow flakes and the skaters.

Each group was taught a dance to the music of the Nutcracker. They were also able to watch last year’s taped performance of the Nutcracker as they met the some of the cast and enjoyed juice and snacks.

Young ballerina Cecilia Castro of Gainesville said she enjoyed performing for an audience. Her group partner, Faith Stalanker, said she enjoyed eating as well as performing.

Rommie Stalanker, a professional dancer and senior at Brenau, wore her Sugar Plum Fairy costume to impress the kids.

"It’s fun to see the kids’ faces when they see the dancers," she said. She and two other dancers from the Nutcracker met the young dancers in the Brenau Tea Room.

Susan Shilling, the co-chair of the mini-camp, said she enjoys "seeing the kids go home happy."

"It’s supposed to be fun." Shilling said. "It is the fastest three hours of my life."

The mini-camp happens twice a year and has lasted more than 10 years. The camp this year involved the help of 25 Company 1 dancers and apprentices and 10 adults to help supervise activities.

Diane Callahan, director of the Gainesville School of Ballet and the ballet company, began the company in 1974. Since then, the company has been reaching out to the community of young dancers in North Georgia and Atlanta.

After the mini-camp, attendees could register for ballet lessons and buy tickets to this year’s performance of the Nutcracker which will be performed Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 at Brenau’s Pearce Auditorium. The young dancers could also buy Nutcracker T-shirts and holiday wreaths.

The second mini-camp will be March 1 before the performance of the spring ballet, Snow White.