December 4, 2008
By A.J. O’CONNELL
WILTON — There is a Nutcracker sitting in the living room of the Wong family’s Wilton home.
It definitely has a place there. Both the family’s children are dancing in Tchaikovsky’s holiday ballet this year. Julianna, 10, is performing in the Wilton Dance Studio’s “Nutcracker.” Her brother Jeremy just landed a very big role: the 8-year-old is playing the role of Fritz (heroine Marie’s brother) in the New York City Ballet’s ” George Balanchine’s ‘The Nutcracker,’” which opened last Friday at the Lincoln Center.
Opening night attracted the likes of David and Victoria Beckham, Al Roker, Vanessa Williams and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Asked what he likes best about his role as Marie’s mischievous brother, the third grader smiles shyly and responds: “I like being famous. I just like going around and dancing.”
Jeremy began dancing at the age of four. His parents, Frank Wong and Andrea Plotkin, say Julianna’s dance classes inspired the then-toddler. “I think he saw Julianna dancing and just wanted to do it too,” said Frank Wong.
Julianna, who began dancing at the age of six, has since decided to focus on jazz and tap dance, but she has fond memories of her brother’s first Nutcrackers with the Wilton Dance Studio.”He was the only boy cherub,” she said. “He was so cute.”
Now a student at the American School of Ballet in New York City, Jeremy is surrounded by other boy dancers. His class there is mostly boys and next year, he will go into an exclusively male class.
Jeremy’s teacher, Garielle Whittle, asked him to audition for the role of Fritz and though he rehearsed extensively for the role, he did not get to rehearse with the actual New York Ballet company until last Wednesday.
“The dress rehearsal was very exciting,” said Andrea Plotkin. “It was his first time with the company.”
“The real company,” added Jeremy.
Plotkin says that the height of the dancer playing Fritz and Clara’s father impressed Jeremy. In the party scene, when Fritz is carried out by his father after tormenting Clara, Jeremy gets to kick into the air and fake a tantrum.
“He’s up really high,” she said.
Asked if he’s nervous about performing in front of such large audiences, Jeremy shook his head. His sister, sitting next to him, poked him.”You said you had butterflies,” she whispered.
“That was before the show, not on stage,” he whispered back.
Frank Wong says Jeremy is extremely comfortable with the spotlight. He is involved with musical theater and loves dance so much that when the Wongs’ home was being renovated he danced right into the living room while the hardwood floors where being redone.
“The floor guy wasn’t very happy,” said Wong.
The New York Ballet’s Nutcracker will run through the holidays and end on Jan. 3.
The entire family — mother, father, grandparents from Arizona and big sister — was in attendance at last week’s opening night. But Julianna will get equal time when her Nutcracker opens on Dec. 14.
“Unfortunately Jeremy has a performance that day, but he’ll go to the dress rehearsal so he can see her dance, too,” said Plotkin.
© 2008 The Hour Publishing Co.