Mikaéla Parisien, who goes by Mika, performs as an Arabian Doll in the evening shows. Mika is a fourth-grader at Dr. Bessie Rhodes Magnet School who trains with Dance Center Evanston, according to her mom, Marie-Edmonde Parisien.
"She loves it," says Parisien. "She's always wanted to be on TV, ever since she was little."
Mika has been dancing since age 4, and was exhilarated when she made the cut. Her older sister, Sarah, age 10, is also an accomplished ballerina who has participated in ballroom dance competitions, says Parisien.
Also performing in the Nutcracker is Mary Slowinski, a fifth-grader at Saint Athanasius School in Evanston. Her mother, Maria Slowinski, says Mary has been dancing since age three with studios such as AFB Academy, Joffrey Academy and the Foster Dance Studio.
"Dancing in this year's Joffrey Nutcracker as a Toy Soldier is a dream come true," says Slowinski.
Other young performers from Evanston include Mia Rehwaldt, Miles Andrew King, Sophie Page King and Ava Delariman. The show runs through Dec. 27 at the Auditorium Theatre in downtown Chicago, with performances at 2 and 7 p.m. daily.