If Maya Mordente appears confident for a 10-year-old making her debut with a professional dance company in "The Nutcracker," maybe it's because show-business courses through her veins.
Maya, a 4-foot-5 fifth-grader at Lynwood Avenue Elementary in Farmingville, has taken lessons at her grandmother's Brookhaven School of Dance since she was 3. Her granny is Barbara Mordente, who performed in Broadway's "Li'l Abner" with Maya's great-uncle Tony Mordente. (Barbara married Tony's brother, Joe.) Barbara also is a friend of Chita Rivera, who starred with Tony in the original "West Side Story" in 1957. Chita and Tony married that same year and divorced in 1966.
"I think they'll come to my show," Maya says of her famous great-aunt and Chita's ex.
Maya stars as the dreamer Clara in the Eglevsky Ballet's annual Tilles Center "Nutcracker" Dec. 18 and 19. It's one of many "Nutcrackers" from one end of Long Island to the other.
Among them is the Leggz Ltd. "Nutcracker," the only one on the Island that will be danced to the lush sound of a full live orchestra - the 70-piece South Shore Symphony. It opens Friday in Rockville Centre.
On the North Shore, Port Jefferson's Harbor Ballet Theatre this weekend features Tony-nominated Ashley Tuttle as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Her dance card recently became available when "Come Fly With Me," the Twyla Tharp-Frank Sinatra musical, closed on Broadway. Tuttle earned her Tony nod for Billy Joel's "Movin' Out," also choreographed by Tharp.
Meanwhile, Maya's been rehearsing since September for her premiere. She's younger than most Claras. "Lots of girls at the audition were teenagers," says Maya. The company will dance to new choreography by Laszlo Berdo, master instructor and choreographer for the Eglevsky.
With so many to choose from, there's bound to be a "Nutcracker" near you.
ADMISSION $37 to $82
INFO tillescenter.org; 516-299-3100
LEGGZ LTD. DANCE
WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday at South Side High School, 140 Shepherd St., Rockville Centre
ADMISSION $24, $22 seniors, children
ALSO TRY "Land of the Sweets," one-hour family version of "Nutcracker" excerpts performed by Leggz Dance at the Nassau County Museum of Art, 1 Museum Dr., Roslyn Harbor, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Dec. 11; $45, $25 children, $2 parking
HARBOR BALLET THEATRE
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, at Vandermeulen High School, 550 Scraggy Hill Rd., Port Jefferson
INFO harborballet.com; 631-331-3149
BALLET LONG ISLAND
See it up close and personal at the company's dance studios or in the spacious former Islip Town hall.
WHEN | WHERE 10 and 11:30 a.m. Dec. 15 and 16, 8 p.m. Dec. 17, 1 p.m. Dec. 18, 3 and 6 p.m. Dec. 19, at Town Hall West, 401 Main St., Islip
ADMISSION $22, $12 seniors and children
INFO theballetcenter.com; 631-737-1964
LONG ISLAND BALLET THEATRE
ADMISSION $32, $23 seniors and children
INFO liballettheatre.com; 631-271-4626
ALSO TRY The "Kingdom of Sweets" reception for children after each performance, $7, plus "Clara & Friends" tea party at noon Dec. 11 and 12, $20
NEW YORK DANCE THEATRE
ADMISSION $35, $28 seniors and children, $18 for 11 a.m. Dec. 17 show
INFO ohmanballet.com; 631-462-6266
Academy co-founders Svetlana Caton-Noble and Venti Petrov keep the tradition going for a 12th season.
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, at the Maguire Theater, Campus Center, SUNY Old Westbury, Route 107 north
ADMISSION $30, $25 seniors and children
INFO lumiereballet.com; 631-586-2921
ALSO TRY Dany Holdstein Two Worlds Dance's traditional "Nutcracker" from the company's hip-hop/modern dance perspective, at 2 p.m. Dec. 18 and 19, Maguire Theater, SUNY Old Westbury, $25 ($30 at door), dhtw.com, 516-484-6604
This newcomer in the annual "Nutcracker" sweeps casts American Ballet Theatre II performer Alberto Valazquez in the role of the Cavalier.
WHEN | WHERE 2 and 6 p.m. Dec. 18, noon and 4 p.m. Dec. 19 at Huntington High School, 188 Oakwood Rd.
ADMISSION $25, $15 children
INFO lynchballet.com; 631-553-7392
HAMPTON BALLET THEATRE
Dancing the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier are Irina Dvorovenko and Sascha Radetsky of the American Ballet Theatre.
ADMISSION $20, $15 children
INFO 631-237-4810; email@example.com
Royce Zackery, American Ballet Theatre instructor, master of modern dance, jazz and tap and veteran of musical theater tries his hand (and feet) at the Cavalier.
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, at Southampton High School, 141 Narrow Lane
ADMISSION $12 to $15, $8 to $12 children and seniors
INFO dansearts.com; 631-537-1684
AMERICAN DANCE THEATRE OF LONG ISLAND
The 10th anniversary production of "Clara's Dream" puts its child-centric spin on the Tchaikovsky classic.
WHEN | WHERE 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. Saturday, 1 and 6 p.m. Sunday, at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 E. Main St.
INFO patchoguetheatre.com; 631-207-1313
ALSO TRY Ovations Dance Repertory Theatre offers "The Nutcracker Suite" in full and abbreviated versions. 2 p.m. Dec. 9 (one-hour show for younger children), 1 and 7 p.m. Dec. 11, 1 and 6 p.m. Dec. 12, $10-$28,patchoguetheatre.com
Russian native Valia Seiskaya's original choreography brings a touch of Tchaikovsky's homeland to this North Shore holiday staple.
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Dec. 17 and 20, 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 18, 1 and 6 p.m. Dec. 19, at Staller Center, Stony Brook
ADMISSION $35, $29 seniors and children (early bird discount if purchased by Nov. 30), $34-$40 thereafter
INFO seiskaya.com; 631-632-2787
They call it "The Nutcracker 'Sweet' " - 30 local kids dancing with a corps of professionals.
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Dec. 17, at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, 75 Main St.
INFO whbpac.org; 631-288-1500