SANDY, Utah — A young girl with Down syndrome is shining under the lights at a local production of “The Nutcracker.”
Eight-year-old Sara Lutkin plays the role of a young mouse in the Mountain West Ballet production.
“My heart nearly jumped out of my chest. I was so excited,” said Jodi Lutkin, Sara’s mother.
The Lutkins adopted Sara from a family in Ukraine. She’s been involved in dance classes for more than four years and earned her way on stage through an audition.
“She was very confident,” Jodi said. “Walked on stage with her peers. She talks all the time about how dance is exciting.”
Mountain West Ballet is proud of its all-inclusive policy. Dancers of all skill levels earn roles by meeting a series of requirements like taking dance classes and committing to the production.
“It’s fun. It’s great to see dancers of all different abilities and all different backgrounds coming together, pulling together to put on a production as this,” said Ellise Shell of Mountain West Ballet. “It doesn’t matter what their background is, they are all working together for magic.”
Sara’s family believes her role in the show shines a spotlight on the many abilities of children with special needs, along with the power of inclusion, helping with acceptance and advocacy.
“People look at people with disabilities ... and maybe doubt that they can’t do the same things, but Sara has been amazing and able to do those kinds of things,” Jodi said.
The Mountain West Ballet production of “The Nutcracker” runs through Dec. 21.