Being Clara by Julia Dawson

Dancing the role of Clara in The Nutcracker is every young girl’s dream when they are dancer. We recently caught up with Miss Julia Dawson, one of the three young ladies sharing the role of Clara this year in California Ballet Company’s The Nutcracker. Julia was asked to guest Blog for us and share what it means to her to be Clara.

Being Clara

Written by Julia Dawson


Julia Dawson

I am excited to be performing as one of the Claras in this year’s production of The Nutcracker

To me, the role of Clara and The Nutcracker ballet are about family. Clara’s story is one that families, like mine, enjoy year after year. Clara appreciates the qualities of family. Her family throws a big Christmas Eve party, and invites other families to celebrate. And this ballet bring families, like mine, together during this beautiful time of the year. 


I have two sisters, an older and a younger, who also dance in this production along with my dad. My mom volunteers backstage. It isn’t Christmas until we perform The Nutcracker. This is our 11th Nutcracker. It’s our holiday tradition. We don’t even put up a Christmas tree, until the performances have come to an end. We spend November and December rehearsing and preparing. We discuss the production around the dinner table. And then we enjoy the family time spent at the beautiful Civic Theatre, celebrating the holidays with our extended California Ballet family.


My older sister, Danielle, was first cast as a bon bon in The Nutcracker in 2005. I saw that production. and got a photo with Clara and her autograph after the show. I was ready to perform myself. I auditioned, and was cast with Danielle as a bon bon the next year when I was four years old. And so my family Nutcracker tradition began. 


                                              Julia Taffy                    Julia Bon Bon

Julia’s first Nutcracker as a Taffy and a Bon Bon – 2006

I have danced with both of my sisters. And my real-life dad is my on-stage dad in the party scene. It is a family affair. Last year, my dad got to perform as Clara’s dad when Danielle danced the role of Clara. I am getting to experience everything that she got to experience last year. It is cool, and I get to dance with my dad this year, too. My sister Danielle is giving me tips on my performance.


I’ve been dancing at California Ballet since I was two years old. I’ve grown up at the California Ballet school. I was a bon bon for five years. Then, I graduated to the littlest girl in the family scene, and then the snobby girl. I’ve been a reindeer and a rosebud, and now Clara. 


This is a highlight of my life. I have been very fortunate this year to be given so many opportunities, including participating in an international ballet competition in New York City and now dancing Clara. I am excited to take the stage, to dance with my family and with the other kids in the family scene, play with the life-size dolls, battle mice, dance under the sparkling tree of lights, and visit the snow kingdom and the land of the sweets.


We’ve been rehearsing every Sunday since early September, following auditions in August. As a young dancer, I spend many hours at the ballet studio, or in rush hour traffic getting there. I juggle homework and late nights, including time spent putting my hair in curlers. But this is what the holiday season means to me and my family. The joy of performing, with my family, for other families who come to see this beautiful ballet. 


Look for my dad in the family scene, my older sister dancing as a snowflake and a candy cane, and my younger sister as a soldier battling the mice.  I hope you enjoy the performance, and the spirit of this magical family time.


See Julia as Clara this December in The Nutcracker at the San Diego Civic Theatre!

Buy Tickets!


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