Three Lynnwood girls to perform in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker

abby headshot
Abby Hannuksela

By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor

Saturday is going to be a big day for three Lynnwood girls.

The three – Abby Hannuksela, Lily Kotovic and Abby Opper – will be performing in the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 30th annual production of the Nutcracker.

The first two of 31 performances are on Saturday and for Abby Hannuksela, it’s going to be an especially exciting night. This will be her first time performing in the Nutcracker.

Hannuksela, 11, will be playing an infantry soldier. The Terrace Park Elementary student started taking ballet lessons at Pacific Northwest Ballet last year and auditioned for the Nutcracker this year.

“My favorite part of ballet is performing,” Hannuksela said. “I really wanted to try out and this year I got to and it was really fun.”

Rehearsals started in October and were one or two times a week. The rehearsals increased in number and duration in the week leading up to Saturday’s performance. There actually are two casts for the show.

Hannuksela was in an end of the year production last year so she has a taste of what performing before a live audience is like.

“I probably will be a little nervous but not too nervous,” she said.

Nerves shouldn’t be a problem for Lily Kotovic and Abby Opper as both are veterans of the Nutcracker.

Lily Kotovic

This is Kotovic’s fourth year in the production, while it is Opper’s third year performing in the show.

Kotovic, 12, also was cast as an infantry soldier.

“One of my favorite things is you have to act,” she said. “You don’t just dance. You act your part. At the end, the soldiers have to act hurt and tired and you have to carry your friends off the stage.”

Kotovic, who is home schooled, has danced since she was 5 and has been studying with Pacific Northwest Ballet for four years.

“I love dance. You can express your emotions through dance,” Kotovic said. “If you feel happy, you can do more cheerful jumps. If you’re sad, you can do something graceful and meaningful.”

Abby Opper

Opper, 13, will be performing as a Chinese dancer. She is doing point (dancing on the point of her feet) on the stage for the first time.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Opper said. “I like how challenging it is.”

Opper doesn’t get nervous performing.

“I’m usually not nervous on stage,” said Opper, who also is home schooled. “Right before I am. Once I go on I forget about it and focus on the dancing and other things.”

All three girls want to continue dancing and performing as they get older.

Hannuksela has been dancing for 10 years and doing ballet for nine.

“I don’t know why I started but I really enjoy it,” she said. “It’s fun to watch the professional dancers and someday think you could be that good and do the stuff they are doing.”

Kotovic feels the same way.

“When I was younger, it was just a hobby,” she said. “Now as I’m growing older I could maybe do this as a profession. I realized how much I actually enjoy it.”

“I want to do this as long as I can,” Opper said.

For more information on the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker, see

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