WASILLA — In a lot of ways, Sarah Latta has been preparing for the role she’ll play this fall for 10 years.
All of those years, she and her mother, Val Latta, would head into Anchorage and watch the “Nutcracker.” Also, 10 years is the amount of time she’s taken classes at Sonja’s Studio of Dance.
“It’s just like really fun and I always feel really happy when I’m doing it,” Sarah said when asked Thursday what has kept her coming back for 10 of her 13 years on this earth.
Last year, she tried out for “Nutcracker” and was cast as one of the girls at the Christmas party.
Sarah joked that, except for pieces she caught in the green room on a TV screen, “last year was the first time I didn’t see it.”
Val said that in the past she and her daughter had actually talked about how cool it would be if Sarah could get a part as one of the girls at the party.
“That was her dream,” Val said. “Getting to do that was like, the pinnacle.”
This year, though, she reached another, higher pinnacle.
In July, when Sonja’s decided not to do its own local “Nutcracker” this year, Sarah had a chance to try out for the Anchorage performance. She auditioned hoping to get another spot as a girl at the party.
Her father, Jeff Latta, said that after tryouts and callbacks, he and his family basically waited by the phone.
“At 7:30 (p.m.) or so, one of her friends from here called and said, ‘I got a part,’” Jeff said. “Facebook started lighting up.”
A few more updates from friends with parts and all of a sudden it was 9 p.m.
“She came to me and said, ‘Daddy, it’s OK. I got to do it last year and my friends get to do it this year,’” Jeff said.
Jeff said he appreciated her maturity. Five minutes later the phone rang. They wanted her to play the part of Clara — the lead.
“That was pretty surprising,” Jeff said.
“I was really excited. Like, really excited,” Sarah said, before describing how she excitedly broke the news to her best friend.
Jeff joked that, unlike last year, Sarah will be able to see the entire ballet this year.
“You’re in every single scene,” he said, before Sarah corrected him — she’s not in the snow scene.
Val said she believed it was an extra-special moment for her daughter because just a few months prior she had been diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes.
“She was so devastated being diagnosed with diabetes because she really knows what it’s all about because her brother is diabetic,” Val said.
But she told her daughter diabetes doesn’t have to hold her back.
“It doesn’t change anything as far as what you can do,” Val recalled telling Sarah. And now, to get the role of Clara, Val said, “it proves that to her,” she said.
Someone who didn’t need that proof is the studio’s owner, Sonja Babcock.
“She an exceptional dancer. She has a gift,” Babcock said.
Having Sarah picked to play Clara is the biggest role one of her dancers has gotten this year, Babcock said.
Another Sonja’s Studio student is set to perform in a rendition of “Nutcracker” to be aired on PBS this holiday season and others have received scholarships to study all over. When it comes time for Sarah to apply for scholarships, Babcock said she expects big things.
“Sarah’s good enough she’ll be able to pick where she wants to go,” Babcock said.
Contact reporter Andrew Wellner at email@example.com or 352-2270.