The Nutcracker ballet breaks barriers

FRESNO, Calif. - A little girl in a wheelchair glides across the stage of the Mercedes Edwards Theater in Clovis, as dancers of all abilities and disabilities bring The Nutcracker ballet to life.

Among them, Clara, played by 12-year-old Bethany Wong, a young ballerina with a point to prove.

"If you want to dance, you don't have to have two arms, you don't have to have two legs to dance," Wong said.

She's one of many youth taking part in this year's performance, put on by Fresno's Break the Barriers, a gym where all kids are included.

Performing arts director Alyssa Garvin says, the idea for this show came several years ago.

"My dad said, Alyssa, wouldn't it be so amazing if you offered an opportunity, a platform for all of these children with different abilities, to be in a ballet," Garvin said.

The effort was a hit and Garvin says, broadens the performing-arts world.

"Performing arts is, has been for so many years, all about what you look like, you know," Garvin said. "It's only until 2015, that the first ever African-American ballerina, Misty Copeland, was promoted to principle dancer."

But this weekend, Break the Barriers is taking steps, or leaps, to change that.

"If a little gal in a wheelchair getting the chance to be in a ballet isn't beautiful," Garvin said. "I don't know what is." 

Wong hopes, those who come see the ballet, think so, too.

"I hope they remember that, they see one person in a wheelchair, and they go, she's beautiful, and she can dance so well." 

Reporting in Fresno, Megan Rupe. 


The show opens Friday and begins at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday's show is at 2 p.m.

Sunday's shows are at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., all at the Mercedes Edwards Theater in Clovis, off of 5th street. 

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