NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Dancing with Nina Cabral

By Shaina Richards

With big brown eyes and a bright and bubbly personality, NECC dance major Nina Cabral easily grabs and holds her audience’s attention, even when she isn’t dancing. At only nineteen years old, Nina just started getting offers from dance companies in Boston and is going to perform as the lead in Slutcracker, a Burlesque version of the Nutcracker, at the Somerville Theater in early December.

Very petite, energetic, and always onto the next thing, Nina radiates confidence, especially when she dances. Nina is described by fellow dance member Zany Dwight, a freshman at NECC and fellow member of the dance club, as having “a quick wit and extremely talented, and never a show off, but carries herself in the beauty and grace of a good and genuine person.”

Even those who have only worked with Nina for a short amount of time are left with a positive impression as someone who is not only a success with their dancing career, but also with maintaining modesty and a real consideration for others. Zany also said, “she has become a person I look up to. She is totally herself and she is very accepting of others. She encourages me when we dance, even though she is obviously the shining star.”

Nina’s passion for dance started when she was 13 years old, and she has been in love with it ever since. Although she took classes when she was very small, she hardly remembered any of it.

“My older sister, who I looked up to, decided that dance was lame and so neither she nor I would be doing that activity anymore,” Nina said. “After my sister went to high school, I had a large chunk of time to figure out who I was as a person. I might have never started dancing had my older sister not gone to the public high school since I was very much living in her shadow.”

Now, Nina works every day to improve her dancing and intends to pursue a career in it.

From 2012-2013, Nina spend a year living in New York studying ballet at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, which was great preparation for the upcoming roles she was able to land this year.

“It was a blast! I was in New York for a year, starting first with the ABT [American Ballet Theater] summer intensive and then the Bolshoi (a Russian ballet school) summer intensive,” Nina said.

She auditioned for the Gelsey Kirkland School during the summer intensives and got in. “I had to,” she said. “My dad told me that if I didn’t come back with anything that the summer was going to be my ‘last shebang’ with dance.”

After the year, she felt she had improved significantly. “Something I really enjoyed at my dance school, which was at the cross section of Canal and Franklin, was that one of the studios had a big window that overlooked the street. The street happened to be one that a tourist bus would ride on. Whenever the tourist bust would be at a red light people would gawk at us in amazement and take pictures. I really felt like I was doing it, like I was going somewhere with dance, but in reality I was still paying.”

Last year, a ballet company in Burlington put her on as an apprentice, and she performed for them. It was the first time she was considered part of a company. “I was so excited and happy about it that I cried,” she said. Looking back, she realized it wasn’t even a big company, and she wasn’t even assigned much work, but she was so happy that someone had recognized her work and wanted her. As an apprentice she had the advantage of getting to take free classes and improve her dancing.

This year, Nina also got the lead in the performance of Dracula as the character Wilhelmina. John Ling, who played the role of Dracula, described her as a “true treasure.”

“Working with Nina was a wonderful experience for me,” John said. “I have had numerous partners in the past, most good and some bad. I am happy to report that my experience with Nina was excellent. She is a talented dancer with much to offer anyone. She is considerate, sweet, strong and, most importantly, very humble.”

She was also invited to join two dance companies in Boston after attending the Boston Dance Alliance audition for Slutcracker. A friend of hers, who used to go to NECC, offered that Nina go with her to the audition. Although Nina initially questioned it because of its scandalous nature, she decided that she needed to put herself out there and give her dancing some exposure. “I can’t go anywhere if no one has seen me!” she said.

The BDA audition had different auditions for four different types of dance: ballet, modern/improv, hip hop and jazz. For the modern/improv audition, Nina decided to try something new and pulled her shirt over her head while walking on all fours. Although worried it might come across as silly, the judges apparently appreciated her spontaneity; she was just recently invited to join the Jo-Mé Dance Company and Rainbow Tribe.

“A really close friend of mine told me that everyone has special talents and they were given to us by a higher power for us to use, and if we don’t use what we are given we are pretty much letting the universe down,” said Nina.

Nina’s passion for dance has already taken her further than she ever would have believed, and she is excited to progress in her dancing career as she continues to study at NECC.

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