ORLANDO, Fla. – Just days before opening night of "The Nutcracker," dancers with the Orlando Ballet took a break from rehearsals to bring some holiday cheer to patients at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
"Well, my favorite part was when they're on their tippy toes," said Monique Wall,17, a patient greeted by the dancers.
It wasn't quite quite Christmas Eve, and little Clara is still preparing for her parents' big party, but the dolls and soldiers coming to life in that magical "Nutcracker" dream walked through hospital hallways Monday.
Dancers Kate Robichaux, Arcadian Broad, and Taylor Sambola, dressed in full "The Nutcracker" ballet costume, handed out storybooks to children on their visit.
"I feel like they're so excited when we walk in," Robichaux said. "It warms my heart that we get to bring them joy, and you know, they're in the hospital. It's not fun to be here, especially this time of year. They don't want to be sick. It's nice to brighten their day and put a smile on their face."
This has become an annual tradition for Orlando Ballet, getting results by sharing a timeless story of the holiday season with young patients.
"I think that it's important that people are given art as an outlet to not only express, but to recover," Broad said. "You have something like ballet and dance and music, and you bring it all together. It kind of brings that feel-good feeling that everybody kind of desires. It just brings it all together, and promotes progress."
The Orlando Ballet's "The Nutcracker" premieres Thursday at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and runs through Sunday.
Tickets are still available for purchase at drphillipscenter.org.