Friends since kindergarten and sharing a deep passion for dance, two Staples High School seniors have landed every ballerina's dream role.
Jessica Riniti and Emily Smith will dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy this month in separate productions of the holiday classic ballet "The Nutcracker."
Riniti will perform the role in the Westport Academy of Dance production at Staples High School this weekend -- Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8.
Smith will be the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Connecticut Dance School production at Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts on Sunday, Dec. 15.
They plan to attend each other's performances to show support and to celebrate their shared enthusiasm for the role, according to a news release issued by the Connecticut Dance School.
"The Nutcracker" tells the story of a young girl, Clara, who receives a nutcracker at her parents' Christmas party. She falls asleep and dreams that her nutcracker comes alive in the land of sweets. The Sugar Plum Fairy, one of several leads in the ballet, is her guide.
Riniti and Smith both started dancing at age 3, according to the release, and both said they appreciate the chance to perform as the Sugar Plum Fairy.
"It's the most challenging role I've ever danced, and, I expect, probably the most rewarding," Riniti said in the release.
Smith has watched the Sugar Plum Fairy in the New York City Ballet production every year since she was 5, Connecticut Dance School said.
"When I was little, I thought the Sugar Plum was the most boring part of the entire ballet," Smith said. "But, as I've gotten older, I've learned to love the music and realized that I really love the role. The pas de deux is so classic and so dramatic. And everyone knows the music from the Sugar Plum variation."
Both girls are exploring college options, according to the release, and both plan to continue dancing.