Riverside ballerina, 12, takes on dream ‘Nutcracker’ role

Riverside ballerina, 12, takes on dream ‘Nutcracker’ role

As she sat on her mother’s lap watching a performance of the classic Tchaikovsky ballet “The Nutcracker,” 4 year-old Julia Garcia pointed at the girl dancing the role of Clara and said that one day she would like to be her.


That was eight years ago. Now 12, Garcia is playing Clara in BRAVA’s upcoming production of the holiday tradition.


Riverside resident Julia Garcia’s passion for dance is leading to success on television.<br />(Photo courtesy of Kenneth Dolin)

“Being Clara is genuinely a dream come true,” Garcia said. “I’m truly thankful for the opportunity.”


Dancing always came naturally to the young Riverside resident.


“Once I learned how to walk, dancing quickly followed,” she said. “I loved to twirl and leap and after my very first ballet class at Riverside Ballet Arts, I was hooked. Every morning I’d ask, ‘Ballet today?’ Ballet speaks to my heart. Ballet has taught me perseverance, dedication and discipline, which I use in acting and in my everyday life.”


Garcia said Riverside Ballet Arts has been her home away from home for as long as she can remember.


She started at 2 1/2 in a creative movement class with Riverside Ballet Arts’ Founder and Artistic Director Glenda Carhart, Garcia recalled.


“I am currently on pointe and have been dancing on pointe for about 10 months,” she said. “Glenda has nurtured me and is helping me develop the skills to one day possibly dance professionally.”


This is Garcia’s third year in BRAVA’s production of “The Nutcracker,” but her first time as Clara.


Acting is something else that has always come naturally to Garcia. Her brother Jaxon, now 14, tells the story of when she was 2 and used to try pulling herself onto the family’s entertainment center, reaching for the television and saying, “Julia TV, Julia TV.”


“To mess around with me, my brother would hand me the remote control,” Garcia said. “I would get frustrated and cry because I wanted to be inside the TV. So I guess I’ve always known that I wanted to be an actress.”


Garcia has been pursuing acting professionally since she was 5. A year later, she booked her first national commercial.


“Being on stage fueled my fire for acting, and it led to my transition from acting commercially to television,” she said.


Garcia said one of her favorite TV roles has been Molly on Nickelodeon’s “Henry Danger.” She also was on the CBS series “S.W.A.T.,” during which she was excited to meet actor and producer Shemar Moore.


“That was definitely a highlight in my career because I’m a huge fan of his,” she said.


Garcia recently worked with actress and comedian Caroline Rhea on a Disney show that will premiere in early 2019.


“That was really cool because Miss Caroline is so nice and super funny,” she said. “I learned a lot from her.”


Her mother, Jennifer Garcia, called it exciting and rewarding to see her daughter do well and be successful.


“She’s always been driven,” Jennifer Garcia said. “Julia definitely leads and I’m just along for the ride. I am blessed to have a supportive husband who encourages our kids to dream big and to strive for their own personal best.”



“The Nutcracker” will be performed Friday, Dec. 21, through Sunday, Dec. 23, at Riverside City College’s Landis Auditorium. Choreographed by David Allan, this year’s show also will feature internationally renowned guest artists Andrew Veyette and Lauren Lovette, principal dancers from the New York City Ballet.


“Lauren is not only an exquisitely skilled dancer, she a strong, ambitious woman who encourages and empowers kids through dance and outreach programs,” Garcia said. “Helping children express themselves through dance is something I am also very passionate about.”


For ticket information on BRAVA’s production of David Allan’s “The Nutcracker,” visit www.brava-arts.org.


Patrick Brien is executive director of the Riverside Arts Council.