For years Ahwatukee Foothills sisters Ava and Ella Loew have watched their cousin perform in “The Nutcracker” ballet, but this year they’re making performing in the show a family affair.

This is the seventh “Nutcracker” 14-year-old Brooke Czerniski has performed in, but her first year dancing for this company, Youth American Ballet Academy. She said she’s played several different parts in the show from soldier, mouse, bonbon, Arabian and angel to this year dancing the role of snowflake, marzipan and flower.

It’s been a family tradition to watch Brooke perform in “The Nutcracker” each year. Seeing her dance is what made Ava, 8, want to start dance lessons early at 2 years old. Ella, 5, followed in her sister’s footsteps. This year they’ll make their “Nutcracker” debut as mice and angels.

“I like to be on stage,” Ava said. “It feels good, but scary.”

While Ava and Ella will not be dancing point like their cousin Brooke, they’re excited to at least be on the same stage as her.

“It’s more exciting for them being in ‘The Nutcracker’ because they’ve dreamed about it every year, being up on stage with Brooke,” said the girls’ mother, Krista Loew. “This year they’re finally going to be up there.”

While the younger girls are excited to finally be a part of the performance, Brooke said she’s excited to get to continue being a role model for her cousins.

“I always looked up to the older girls,” she said. “I always thought ballet is so beautiful and you have to have so much passion to be in it. I’ve always wanted to have that passion, and now I do have that passion for ballet. I love performing in front of others and sharing with them how much I love ballet. I think when I saw everyone smiling coming out of point, even though it hurts your feet, you could tell they really loved it and I do, too.”

“The Nutcracker” will play at the Campo Verde High School Performing Arts Auditorium, 3870 S. Quartz St. in Gilbert, on Saturday, Dec. 14. This show will feature international dancers from Bulgaria who have performed all over the world. There will be two shows, one at 2 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling (480) 814-9232.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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