When professional ballerina Sarah Wroth takes center stage in the big city this winter in the Boston Ballet Company’s “The Nutcracker,” the Poolesville native says she’ll be thinking of those who helped her get her start in Maryland.
“I owe my success to the educators I’ve had and my family,” says Wroth.
Wroth’s parents still live in the house she grew up in, originally belonging to her great-grandparents.
Growing up, Wroth says her parents encouraged her and younger sister Mary Kate, who now works for the Washington Ballet Center, to participate in physical activity after school. Both girls chose ballet.
“I’ve always been kind of a ham ... [and] I really like putting on a show,” says Wroth. “[And] ballet when you’re that age is social. It was more of the experience than the artistic choice of ballet.”
Wroth enrolled in classes at the Frederick School of Classical Ballet under the instruction of owner Joyce Morrison, who is the artistic director at the Maryland Regional Ballet, also in Frederick.
“I don’t think when [my mother] enrolled me in ballet, she thought she’d be obligated to drive 40 minutes to Frederick,” says Wroth.
What started out as an after-school activity once per week grew into a passion and eventually a career for Wroth.
After a role in the Maryland Regional Ballet’s “Nutcracker” at the age of 9, Wroth says Morrison approached her with an opportunity to take extra classes — a privilege reserved only for those dancers in whom Morrison saw serious potential.
“I think that was when I sort of transitioned into this culture,” says Wroth. “After school, I go to ballet, I take my class ... it sort of developed into loving the work involved. I loved the process of getting better.”
After high school, Wroth studied ballet and education at Indiana University. But even in college, Wroth says she still wasn’t sure she would pursue dance as a career.
“I was very practical,” says Wroth. “I said, ‘I’m going to keep doing ballet for as long as I possibly can and if I get a job, that’s great.’”
She joined the Boston Ballet Company in 2003, and says she immediately looked for ways to give back to other students of dance.
“When I got the job here at Boston, I was like, ‘I’d like to teach as much as possible,’” says Wroth.
Since then, Wroth has worked teaching teen classes and served on the faculty of the Boston Ballet’s summer dance program in 2006. That same year, she created a piece for the Boston Ballet’s chronography workshop. But perhaps most meaningful for Wroth is her work teaching for the Boston Ballet’s School for Adaptive Dance, a program for students with Down syndrome.
“That has been the greatest spiritual gift,” says Wroth. “Getting to teach in that program.”
When Wroth isn’t teaching, she’s spending her work day in rehearsals — sometimes up to six hours per day — and taking classes of her own.
“Every day is class,” says Wroth. “I sort of carry over the sentiments of the Frederick School of Classical Ballet ... the learning never stops.”
The past year has been dedicated to learning Boston Ballet artistic director Mikko Nissinen’s “Nutcracker,” a process that has evolved over several years and several shows.
“This is his final version of ‘The Nutcracker,’” says Wroth. “It’s kind of progressed every year.”
The show features new costumes, sets and even some new choreography.
This year, Wroth is playing the roles of Spanish, Pastorale, Lead Flower and Frau Silberhaus.
“I get paid to dance,” says Wroth, almost marveling in disbelief. “I don’t have to do anything but focus on my craft which is probably the coolest thing.”