Principal dancers for this year’s Nutcracker are, from left, Hayley Raunsbak and Kate Isaac.

Lately, Curtis Studio of Dance is a flurry of children, mice, royals and dolls, as the studio prepares for its annual performance of Tchaikovsky’s timeless holiday classic, The Nutcracker. Studio owner Bonnie Curtis usually selects one prima ballerina for the principal role of Clara. However, this year Curtis has chosen two girls to dance in twin lead roles, requiring Curtis to completely rechoreograph the part. Thirteen-year-olds Hayley Raunsbak and Kate Isaac have been students at Curtis Studio of Dance since they were three. They have performed the Nutcracker each year, beginning as pre-school mice, then snow princesses, candy canes, Russians, Ponchinelles, angels and then leaders in each dance.

“Both girls would come for their rehearsals on Saturdays early and stay the whole day watching the other rehearsals or taking the place of an absent dancer whenever necessary,” said Curtis. “So this summer when I was planning who might dance the role of Clara, I realized that they both were ready. I decided to have Kate be Clara, as she was growing so fast, and I was thinking that the next year it would be Hayley. Then they came back from summer break and Hayley was taller than Kate—the following week Kate was taller than Hayley! That did it. I committed to having twins ‘Isabella and Victoria’—names that were on the list of favorite names in the 1800s.”

Raunsbak and Isaak dance 16 hours a week, said Curtis. They are members of the studio’s competition corps and excel academically at school. “We are very proud of Hayley and Kate taking on a brand-new way to present The Nutcracker ballet,” Curtis said.

Curtis Studio of Dance Presents The Nutcracker will be performed at Carpinteria Middle School, 5351 Carpinteria Ave., on Friday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 15, at 1 p.m. For tickets and information call (805) 732-3229 or visit

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