Dancer from Malverne follows her sister’s footsteps

Ballerina gets lead role in Sacred Heart Academy's "The Nutcracker"


After dancing for 14 years, Malvernite Lauren Sommers is ready for stardom. Sommers, 17, a ballerina who is a senior at Sacred Heart Academy, an all-girls high school in Hempstead, won the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the school’s production of “The Nutcracker,” running from Nov. 16 to 18. If this story sounds familiar, it’s because Lauren’s older sister, Amanda, performed the same role five years ago.

“I was motivated and inspired by her when I watched her perform as the Sugar Plum Fairy,” recalled Lauren, who was 12 at the time.

Like her older sister, Lauren started dancing at the age of 3, when she enrolled at Tap to Pointe Dance Center in Malverne — learning ballet, jazz, tap and pointe under the direction of instructor Sara DeGennaro. Sommers has been a part of Sacred Heart Academy’s “Nutcracker” production since 2007, when she performed as an angel in the Land of Sweets scene.

“The first performance was nerve-wracking,” Sommers admitted, “but I think that as the shows go on, you get this confidence and [you feel the] overwhelming presence of the audience — knowing that they’re all there for you.”

Sommers practices five days a week and trains for two hours each day. She has also trained with Amanda, who recently graduated from Marymount Manhattan College and currently dances with the Hanna Q Dance Company in New York City.

“For her to help me and give me all this information and tips, for her . . . it’s almost like she’s going through it again,” Sommers said. “She loves it. She wants the best for me.”

Sommers said that in preparing for her starring role, it’s been a bit different than other past performances. For “The Nutcracker,” she had to learn how to dance with a cavalier — the male partner who anchors a female dancer’s performance — for the first time. Her partner is Jonah Delgado, a senior at Marymount Manhattan College.

“Of course, anything you start for the first time is challenging,” Sommers said, “but we’ve been practicing a lot, and practice makes perfect.”

Her mother, Diane Sommers, attributes her daughter’s success to her work ethic. She said although her oldest daughter performed in the same role five years ago, nothing is guaranteed.

“She’s been working like crazy for this opportunity,” Diane said. “It’s just exciting to see that she’s earned this role, and it’s just a very exciting time for our family.”

“She’s a powerhouse,” DeGennaro said of Sommers. “It’s been remarkable to see her growth, and it’s been an honor for me to instruct her over the years.”

DeGennaro added that similar to her sister, Sommers exudes strength, beauty and grace through dance. As for final tips before the show, DeGennaro said that Sommers should “dance from the heart, and enjoy every second on that stage.”

Although she has danced for nearly her entire life, Sommers said that there is always room to improve. One of the main areas that she’s working on is stage presence.

“I’d like to give the audience a sense of inspiration,” Sommers said, “since I got that same inspiration from watching my sister in the audience, which pushed me to keep working hard.”

Sommers said that even though this will be her final high school performance, she wants to continue dancing in college. She hopes that her group’s performance in “Nutcracker” will get the audience in the Christmas spirit. She also expects that her fellow dancers will put on a great show.

“It takes a lot of time and dedication,” Sommers said, “and I’m just excited to show the audience how great of a dancer I am, and how well the show comes together with just a group of students choreographing the pieces.”

Tickets for the show are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. For more information, call (516) 483-7383.