A very special 'Nutcracker' for Tampa family - FOX 13 News

A very special 'Nutcracker' for Tampa family

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

She has only been dancing for five years. So it's pretty amazing Gabriela Schiefer is the principal dancer in this weekend's production of 'The Nutcracker' at the Straz Center.

"I think being on stage is the greatest," she said. "It's just a different feeling than the classroom."

She's worked tirelessly to get here -- starting as a gymnast, then only taking up ballet to improve her posture in gymnastics.

"I actually hated it at first," she admitted. "I wanted to quit so badly. But my mom kept me in it and I just grew to love it."

But, one thing was always missing from her performances.

"The performance is extra special now that my dad is going to see it," she said.

From her gymnastics competitions to her big stage performances, her dad has missed them all because of military deployments.

"Years ago when she did the gymnastics competition, I was deployed to Afghanistan," Brian Schiefer explained. "And then continuing through, I went to Officer Candidate School. My schooling as an officer, I moved on by myself while they stayed in this area. And then deployed again, during yet another show."

Brian is still on active duty, but this year, finally, he's home at just the right time and he'll watch Gabriela dance on stage for the first time during this weekend's shows.

"I'm not really that nervous because I'm just focused on what I'm doing on stage," Gabriela offered. "But mostly excited that he gets to see me."

Brian can't wait. He's only heard about it through emails and on Skype.

"We all chose which job we do and do the sacrifices because of it. And it's not like we plan on being gone for your kids' major events," he continued. "It's really worth it to be here this year, to see her."

Sacrifices -- from her hard work on stage, to his in the war zone. For the first time, the two will come together.

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