Playing a role in "The Nutcracker" is nothing new for local young ballet star Ashley Mendoza. She's performed a role or two in other productions of the holiday favorite. The difference is this year is she will be sharing the experience with her older sister Emily.
Emily, 14, had been wrapped up in gymnastics for many years before she gave ballet a try, while Ashley, 10, has been dancing since she was 3.
"I never really paid attention to Ashley's dancing until one day I thought, that could be fun," Emily said.
Over the last few months the sisters have been practicing for their upcoming roles in the Black Diamond Ballet Theatre's production of "The Nutcracker." The three-day event, which returns after a three-year absence due to renovations at the Creative Arts Building in Pittsburg, will take place on Dec. 7, 8 and 9.
"I'm really excited to be playing the role of Fritz, the little brother of Claire," Ashley said.
Ashley is no stranger to playing in front of an audience. She's even held a role in the "The Nutcracker" in the Oakland Children's' Ballet. She has also performed in "Tinker Bell," "Peter Pan, "The Little Match Girl" and "Pinocchio." Ashley has worked on two other productions with her sister as well.
"Every time you dance in a play it is always different," Ashley said. "Each dance company adds their own little touch to it. I hope people will like it."
In this production, Emily has been given a chance to work closely with the professionals involved in the ballet. Emily has been dancing for four years and has become more serious about the possibility of becoming a professional herself.
She is taking on a few different roles throughout "The Nutcracker" production, including that a snowflake, flower and one of the Russian dancers.
"I'm really having fun working with Ashley," Emily said. "It gives us something to do together."
"The Nutcracker" has long been a favorite ballet for the holidays. The story features a young German girl who dreams about a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads.
This Black Diamond Ballet Theater production of "The Nutcracker" will be presented under the artistic direction of Sharon Sobel Idul and includes professional and student dancers from throughout East Contra Costa County.
Professional dancers are Savannah Leigh Drew of Antioch (Snow, Waltz of the Flowers, French Miriltons); Sarah Hernandez of Concord (Sugar Plum); Andrea Herrera of Antioch (Snow, Waltz of the Flowers, and Spanish Chocolate); Jennifer Kauer of Elk Grove (Snow, Waltz of the Flowers, and French Miriltons); Alexandra Lengyel of Brentwood (Rose Queen and Arabian); Ricky Navarro of Antioch (Sugar Plum Caviler); and Mary Wilson of Canoga Park (Snow Queen).
Tickets are available online through www.blackdiamondballet.org.
What: Black Diamond Ballet Theatre's 'The Nutcracker'
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 8; 2 p.m. Dec. 9
Where: Creative Arts Building, 250 School St., Pittsburg
Info: 925-7540-9833 or online at www.blackdiamondballet.org
Cost: $15 children (12 and under) and seniors; $20 adults