Filipinos grab leads in SF staging of “The Nutcracker”

SAN FRANCISCO – It’s Christmas Eve and a little girl named Clara is devastated that a precious gift, her nutcracker was broken.

As the clock strikes midnight, magical things happen. The nutcracker turns into a prince and takes Clara on a journey to the Land of the Snow and to the Land of Sweets, where they meet the Sugar Plum Fairy who rewards them with a celebration of dances.

The Nutcracker is truly one of the most favorite Christmas stories of all time.

For the last 18 years, the Westlake School for the Performing Arts has staged the Nutcracker and this year, about 150 award winning young dancers are taking part in this holiday show.

This year, most of the lead roles are performed by Filipinos.

Jasmine Cruz, 13, is the Sugar Plum Fairy. She began dancing at age 3.  She expressed, “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to play this role, when I grew up watching the older girls and I would see them on stage doing these variations and Pas de Deux. I used to think I want to do that and to be able to do that, it’s amazing.”

Earl John Arisola is the Cavalier who dances with the Sugar Plum Fairy. Arisola is from Ballet Philippines. He came to San Francisco for this performance. He said, “I’m very honored that I get to dance with these beautiful dancers. A lot of them are Filipino and I’m really amazed to look at how talented Filipinos out here are.”

Mahalaya Tintiangco-Cubales, 11, who plays the role of Clara, has been dancing since age 3. She worked hard to bag this lead role. She related, “This is my third time auditioning it and I got Clara this year. It’s very special to have the spotlight on me.”

Malu Rivera-Peoples, who founded the Westlake School for the Performing Arts in 1991, has taught thousands of students through the years. Her goal is to give them opportunities to shine.  She stated, “It’s amazing that we’ve gone this far and celebrating our 25th year next year and doing our 18th year of Nutcracker. But it’s basically year after year of just doing your best.”

The Westlake School for the Performing Arts’ staging of The Nutcracker runs at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco from Dec. 5 to 7.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at for more information.


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