Penelope Koulos is dancing one of the three hardest roles in "The Nutcracker Ballet" this month. But when she takes the stage Sunday, she can rest assured that at least one third of the audience loves her unconditionally.
Penelope, a junior at Wilson High School in Long Beach, got cast as one of the three Sugar Plum Fairies in Ballet Repertory Theatre's annual holiday production at Golden West College. When the company invites the local Greek American community Sunday for its annual Greek Night performance, Penelope can expect some hearty applause – she's the first Greek ever to dance one of the, well, plum roles in the ballet.
"There's no pressure," Penelope, 16, said during rehearsal Friday. "To them, we're all wonderful. They cheer for everyone."
According to spokeswoman Sylvie Nguyen, the company began hosting Greek Night four years ago after it noticed a large crowd from Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Long Beach coming to support members in the show's cast. Every "Nutcracker" production for at least the past four years has featured Greek dancers, Nguyen said; this year's cast features eight, including Penelope.