OTTAWA -- Two young girls are set to perform during the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Nutcracker for the first time tonight at the National Arts Centre. 

“I’m really excited,” said 10-year-old Allie Smith, during rehearsal this afternoon. “Excited and nervous,” responded nine-year-old Susanna Tzemenakis.

The young artists were among 76 local dancers chosen to take part in the show. Tzemenakis comes from the West Carleton School of Performing Arts while Smith is part of the Cumbrae School of Dancing.

The young stars say they have been dancing for years but this is a brand new experience for them,

“It looks really high up compared to the audience so that’s kind of scary,” Smith said, pointing out the height of the stage.

Tzemenakis and Smith were both selected to perform with the army of mice.

“It’s fast – a lot of running,” Tzemenakis said.

The girls have been practicing for about a month and say they are ready for the curtain to drop tonight.

Artistic Director, André Lewis, says these young talents add to the wondrous and magical world that is Nutcracker.

“Those children add so much of the essence of what Nutcracker is all about – about Christmas,” he said. “Without them it would not be the same show.”

Both Tzemenakis and Smith will perform in evening shows on December 5th and 7th, as well as a matinee show on December 8th.