Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Bethany Helwig
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

The Nutcracker comes alive

Moose Lake student lands lead in ballet at the DECC


December 5, 2019

Provided Photo

Amanina (third from the right) with her ballet classmates.

Moose Lake freshman Amanina Sheetz will perform the leading student role of Clara in the Minnesota Ballet's presentation of "The Nutcracker" on December 13 and 15 at the DECC (Duluth Entertainment Convention Center).

According to the Minnesota Ballet, "The Nutcracker" is a classic story about a young girl's enchanting dream as her beloved Nutcracker doll comes to life on Christmas Eve. The duo fights a fierce battle against mice, waltzes in a dreamy winter wonderland, and journeys to exotic lands ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy.

"We are super proud of her and it is just a joy to watch her dance," said mother Cathy. "She has a good group of friends from Minnesota Ballet and they all really support and cheer each other on."

Amanina has been interested in dance from a very young age. "When I was about 3 years old, my mom bought a ballet DVD for my sister and me. I remember standing in the living room using a chair as the barre and following the people on our TV."

She took her first dance class in Willow River when she was 5 years old. However, the studio closed after her first year and she went to another dance studio in Esko for one year. During her time in Esko, she and fellow students went to a special performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by the Minnesota Ballet.

"I loved seeing the performance," said Amanina.

After her year at the Esko studio, Amanina knew she wanted to continue ballet so her mother took her around to different places for study but none of them worked out. Then one of the mothers of her fellow classmates spoke to them about Minnesota Ballet classes. Amanina and her friend decided to give it a try and have been there ever since.

"The Minnesota Ballet is amazing," said Amanina. "The teachers are all great at teaching ballet and are super dedicated. They spend most of their time helping all of us students become better dancers. It's also really cool to be connected with a company and to have the privilege to dance in the Nutcracker performances with them."

Being a part of the performance takes months of effort and practice by those involved. After auditions in September, the students have a couple of weeks when they can learn their parts without being watched. Then they join the company for rehearsals every Saturday for three to four hours.

Rehearsals intensify once the date of the ballet is in sight. "On performance week, things get busy because we have warm ups with the company and rehearsals every day for a few hours at the DECC. Then we show up every night of performance to do warm ups even if we aren't dancing that night."

Amanina also performed in the same ballet last year as one of the girls at the Stahlbaum's party.

Despite being kept busy with rehearsals and school work, Amanina tries to find time for her other interests as well. "When I do have free time, I love doing pretty much everything-like art, photography, figure skating on my pond, yoga, hanging out with friends, reading, watching movies and TV shows, and training/playing with animals. I have a donkey from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) that I am trying to halter train right now."

Pursuing her dreams requires a team effort, however, and Amanina was sure to thank her family for all their support.

"I am so, so thankful for my mom who drives me to my ballet classes multiple times a week, and my dad and grandparents who fill in for her when she can't. My mom is literally my favorite superhero in the world."

Her mother only had glowing words about her daughter and the ballet itself. "We're grateful to Minnesota Ballet for such high quality instruction, her dedicated teachers (Ms. Paige, Ms. Erin, Ms. Lila White-Coates, Ms. Nancy), and the opportunity for her to do what she loves-dance ballet."

"The Nutcracker" will be performed at the DECC in Duluth on Dec. 13 at 7 p.m., Dec. 14 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. Amanina will perform the role of Clara during the Friday and Sunday performances. Tickets can be purchased at the DECC Ticket Office or online. Go to or for more information.


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