In the 1880s, an 11-year-old orphan girlfriend, Félicie (Elle Fanning) dreams of becoming a ballerina, but she lacks formal training so she runs away from her rural orphanage with her best friend Victor ( Dane DeHaan), a young inventor. Together, they go to beautiful Paris, but soon the two are separated, and Victor gets a clerk in Gustave Eiffel’s studio. Félicie gets to the famous Paris Opera Ballet where a guard stops her from entering.
She is then seen by a mysterious business woman, Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen), who agrees to help her with a roof over her head until she can stand on her own feet. Odette works for Régine Le Haut (Julie Khaner), a very wealthy restaurant patron. While helping Odette clean, Félicie spies her daughter, Camillle (Maddie Ziegler), while practicing ballet movements. Camille notices Félicie and gets very excited about her and throws her the box on the glass, damaging her.
While Félicie goes to Victor to repair her music box, she meets the postman who delivers a letter to Camille through which she is informed that she was admitted to the ballet school; angry, Félicie takes that letter and decides to steal Camille’s identity to get to school and follow her dream while Camille is being avenged. After a while, the school choreographer, Mérante (Terrence Scammell), tells the girls that one of them is to be chosen to play Clara in the famous “Nutcracker” play.