Ballet Theatre of Carmel Academy to feature six seniors in ‘The Nutcracker’


By Chris Bavender

It’s a historic year for Ballet Theatre of Carmel Academy as six of the featured dancers in “The Nutcracker” production are high school seniors and will be graduating and leaving the troupe.

The BTCA will present “The Nutcracker” at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec 18 and 19 at the Star Bank Performing Arts Center in Zionsville.

Westfield High School senior Elizabeth Brame set to perform in “The Nutcracker.” (Photo courtesy of BTCA)

“As far as I know, they have never had that many graduating seniors, and this group is very tight knit and (are) all very good friends who try to support each other,” said Lisa Brazus, marketing volunteer at BTCA. “In a studio of teenage girls, that is not normal. It really is very a unique situation, and they don’t know how lucky they are.”

Brazus’ daughter, Hannah, is among the six seniors. Hannah, Elizabeth Brame and Cora Maine attend Westfield High School. The other seniors are Riley TerBush, Carmel High School; Olivia “Liv” Weintraut, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory High School; and Caitlin Connolly, Heritage Christian School. Wintraut lives in Zionsville and Connolly is a Carmel resident.

“It’s hard for these girls because some have been dancing 15-plus years,” Brazus said. “So, for something like that to completely stop after all the hours they have put in all these years will be a hard thing for them when they graduate.”

Hannah agrees.

Carmel High School senior Riley TerBush to perform in “The Nutcracker.” (Photo courtesy of BTCA)

“This ‘Nutcracker’ is undeniably bittersweet, as I am both extremely excited to be playing the lead role of Clara and heartbroken to leave behind this magical Christmas tradition,” Hannah said. 

But for now, Hannah and the other dancers are immersed in the world of Clara and ‘The Nutcracker.’ They will dance in all four shows but portray different characters in each production. 

“It is almost always double cast, so it allows the girls more opportunity to have different roles and learn different dance techniques,” Brazus said.

“The Nutcracker” is always a popular production for BTCA.

“I think a lot has to do with tradition, so when it comes to the holidays, everyone wants to see it,” Brazus said. “And it’s the fantasy of it all, especially at Christmastime. Little girls get excited because they get to see princesses and fairies, and it’s just magical and special.” 

Besides the live performances, BTCA will offer a recorded version of the Dec. 19 shows on Vimeo later in the month. For more or for tickets, visit


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