Kaylie Johnson, 14, auditions for a part in  The Nutcracker Ballet  on Saturday at Mann Dance Academy.
Kaylie Johnson, 14, auditions for a part in The Nutcracker Ballet on Saturday at Mann Dance Academy. (Augusta Liddic The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — About 50 children of all ages auditioned Saturday for Mann Dance Academy's winter production, "The Nutcracker Ballet."

But preparing for the ballet began months earlier. Students started learning the lead role repertoire in July, said Judy Mann, the owner of the Farmington academy.

"It really makes at least 50 to 60 dancers work hard all year round," Mann said.

Roles will be announced in the next couple of weeks. Dancers will continue rehearsing until the final performances Dec. 19 and 20 at San Juan College.

This year will be the fifth annual Nutcracker performance for Mann Dance Academy.

"It's the universal winter ballet," Mann said.

Based on the story "The Nutcracker and the King of Mice" by E.T.A. Hoffman, the bBllet tells the story of a young girl, Clara, who receives a nutcracker for Christmas. That night, she dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a battle against a Mouse King.

Lynaya Groth was one of the judges during the auditions on Saturday. She said dance helps people express themselves.

"Some kids might be shy, but dance will bring the outgoing aspects out," Groth said.

She said when she dances she stops thinking about all the stress in the world.

Groth has played the Snow Queen in Mann Dance Academy's Nutcacker in the past. She said it is different to see her former classmates audition, rather than being judged herself.

Emily Grinage, 15, was one of the advanced students who auditioned for the role of Snow Queen on Saturday. The role requires a lot of sur les pointes, or dancing on the tip of the toes.

Grinage danced the role last year and is eager to return.

"The music is really pretty," Grinage said. "There's just an elegance to it that I don't think the other parts have."

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.