She was so beloved as Clara in North Carolina Dance Theatre’s Nutcracker, you could forgive the company for being reluctant to allow Charlotte’s sweetheart, Mia Cunningham, to grow up. Nearly to the end of her career, Cunningham was youth and joy in the egg, playing such roles as Cinderella and Peter Pan’s Wendy during her 18-year stint at NCDT. Yet she could sizzle in Dwight Rhoden’s SALT and sparkle as the hyper majorette in Uri Sands’ All in the Trunk. Mature roles finally drifted her way in recent years: Juliet’s nurse in R&J, Blanche Du Bois in Streetcar. Now Cunningham has retired. How could anyone else’s retirement seem so sudden after so long? Little girls in Charlotte may never again covet an NCDT star’s dancing shoes with so much fervor. Well done.