December has finally arrived and holiday preparations and celebrations have begun. However, for Sophia and Bennett Harrell, preparations started weeks ago when their rehearsals for The Russian Nutcracker began. The siblings, who also participate in youth programs at the NAC, will be dancing in the classic Christmas performance with the Moscow Ballet through their Dance with Us program.

Sophia has been dancing for years, getting her start at the Academy of Dance at the NAC at just two years old. Her first ever dance recital was the NAC recital. Through her classes at the NAC, Sophia fell in love with dance and pursued it as her main interest.
sp[joaLast year, Sophia had her first opportunity to audition for the Nutcracker with the Moscow Ballet. This was the first time that the ballet company scheduled a performance in Philadelphia. Sophia was chosen to dance as one of the mice, making her the youngest dancer of the mice in the show by three years. “The Moscow Ballet said it was the best performance of children, and especially the mice, that they have ever seen,” explained Susan Harrell, Sophia and Bennett’s mother.

In addition to dancing, Sophia joined the Newtown Gymnastics Club USAIGC team this past year. Sophia participated in Baby Gym classes when she was younger, but never pursued gymnastics as seriously as dance. That changed this past summer when Sophia enrolled in a week of gymnastics camp at Camp NAC, where she successfully completed a back handspring on her first day. That sparked Sophia’s interest and prompted her to try out for team.

“I have noticed that by her doing gymnastics, she has more strength and endurance in ballet,” said Susan Harrell. Gymnastics provides amazing strength and conditioning, which helps gymnasts perform better in other sports and activities.

Sophia and Bennett will both place mice and in addition to Sophia’s other roles of party kid and snowflake. This year, the performance will take place on Friday, December 4 at 7:30pm at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby. For tickets, visit:


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