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Local Girl Plays Clara in ‘Nutcracker’

Robinson student dances in Washington Ballet production.

By day, 13-year-old Amanda Clark is a student at Robinson Secondary. But by the weekend, during this holiday season, Amanda is Clara, a lead character in Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker," which is currently being performed by The Washington Ballet.

"I was very excited," Amanda said of hearing the news.

Amanda is one of three Claras in The Washington Ballet production of "The Nutcracker," which runs through Dec. 22 at the Warner Theatre. Earlier in the month, a performance took place at George Mason University's Center for the Arts.

But becoming Clara has been no easy task. Amanda, who started taking ballet lessons when she was 3 1/2, takes ballet lessons from The Washington Ballet's ballet school four days a week after school, for three hours a day. In order to keep up with schoolwork, she does a lot of her homework in the car.

"She's been pretty diligent about getting her homework done," said David Clark, Amanda's father.

Amanda said she keeps up with ballet and schoolwork as well as she can.

"It's what I like to do, so I just make it work," Amanda said.

Before going to Washington Ballet's ballet school, she started taking lessons at Joyful Steps, a local studio. Then she became a dance company member with the studio Hearts in Motion. With that company, she traveled to Sydney, Australia, two years ago, as part of the entertainment for the Olympics. Back then, Amanda was 11.

Amanda started taking lessons at The Washington Ballet last year. Her 9-year-old sister, Rachel, also takes lessons, and is performing with Amanda in this year's "Nutcracker" production.

"You just see your sister on stage, and she's a different person," Amanda said of Rachel.

When Amanda isn't playing Clara, she also performs the roles of Military Doll, Soldier and Gigogne.

"We've always been supportive of what the kids wanted to do," said Ann Marie Clark, Amanda's mother.

And when Amanda isn't busy with homework or dance lessons, she likes to read historical fiction and collect dolls.

"We're real proud of them," said David Clark of his two dancing daughters.