Jaelyn Arancio

Twelve-year-old Jaelyn Arancio’s practically lifelong passion for dancing has landed her in some upcoming exclusive company on the stage.

Arancio, a seventh-grader at Bear Creek Middle School who lives in Statham, recently was selected to perform in The State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine’s production of “The Nutcracker” Dec. 18-19 at The Classic Center in downtown Athens. Tickets for the performances went on sale Friday, Oct. 8, and can be found online at

The internationally-renowned ballet organization, which boasts some of the top performers in the world, premiered its rendition of the Tchaikovsky classic in Ukraine in late 2020 and is taking it to American and Canadian stages for a winter tour next month, including the Athens performance.

Arancio, who will turn 13 next month, started taking dance lessons when she was 3 years old and has danced the last four years on scholarship at the DANCEFX studio in Athens. Her mother, Jennifer Arancio, said the family learned last month about area auditions for the ballet, and she agreed to Jaelyn’s request to try out Sept. 25. After what Jennifer said was a nerve-wracking, hours-long audition process involving more than 200 youth dancers, they found out Jaelyn was one of around what she estimated to be 40 to be selected.

Jaelyn will be performing two parts in the ballet, Jennifer said — one in the opening and the other in “Tea,” the Chinese Dance.

“Jaelyn’s super-excited,” Jennifer Arancio said last week, noting that the first rehearsal for the performance was Saturday, Oct. 9, and that rehearsals were scheduled to continue up into December. “I was just proud of her for even trying out, and now it’s still surreal that she’ll be there.”


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