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Misty Copeland gets the loudest cheers at Disney’s ‘Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ premiere

American Ballet Theatre principal dancer makes her feature film debut and lets her en pointe do the storytelling

Halloween hasn’t arrived yet, but Christmas is here. The truth-telling big-budget film that tipped the signal? Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. The film had its Los Angeles premiere Monday night, and one of the tallest and most notable guests was former Los Angeles Laker Metta World Peace, who was there with his family.

But the night’s fan favorite easily went to Misty Copeland, who makes her feature film debut.

The film is a live-action retelling of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, and it opens Friday, well before Thanksgiving kicks off, with plenty of time for the film to build up a healthy box office before the first slice of turkey is plated. The fantasy/adventure film played host to its star-studded cast at the premiere, which included actor Morgan Freeman. And of course the big moment is the ballet dancer — and, ahem, athlete — Copeland, principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre (decked out in a gorgeously whimsical tea-length strapless gown), as The Ballerina. She has no words in the film; instead, it’s her lightning-quick legs and muscular arms that help advance the story. Her appearance in the film and during a post-credits encore garnered the loudest cheers.

As is the case with most kid-friendly Disney premieres, the reception comes as a prelude to the film itself, with guests taking over a rooftop at the Dolby Theatre to feast on short rib grilled cheese sandwiches, mini chicken pot pies, flatbread pizzas, ramekins stuffed with macaroni and cheese, and a dessert bar that featured gingerbread whoopie pies and other treats.

The retelling of this most-loved story is awash in color (Freeman plays godfather to a young Mackenzie Foy, and relative newcomer Jayden Fowora-Knight, a young black British actor, is the nutcracker). And the invited premiere guests reflected that diversity: Raven-Symoné and Leona Lewis also were spotted.

Kelley L. Carter is a senior entertainment reporter and the host of Another Act at Andscape. She can act out every episode of the U.S. version of The Office, she can and will sing the Michigan State University fight song on command and she is very much immune to Hollywood hotness.