Ballet West celebrates Nutcracker’s anniversary

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    By Erin Pierce

    A larger-than-life Christmas tree, more than 280 dancing and tumbling children, a gold-costumed nutcracker, Tchaikovsky music and seemingly magical pyrotechnics combine this month to celebrate the golden anniversary of The Nutcracker.

    Ballet West, Utah?s professional ballet company, will perform The Nutcracker Dec. 9- 31 at The Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City.

    ?I think the Nutcracker absolutely puts the holidays right in your hand,? said Cati Dallas of Ballet West, the children?s ballet mistress in this year?s Nutcracker production. ?It?s just larger than life ? and just the most incredible holiday experience. It?s the ultimate fairyland.?

    This year?s Nutcracker, the 50th anniversary performance, will be an even more magical fairyland than ever, Dallas said. Because the color for the 50th anniversary is gold, the nutcracker prince is gold-costumed. Another addition is the new Christmas tree, with over 300 lights compared to last year?s 80 lights.

    ?We have some new tricks because we?ve added a new tree. The nutcracker prince when he comes to life just appears. Poof ? and he?s there,? Dallas said. ?We have some new pyro guys too, so the nutcracker just appears out of a burst of pyro. In a puff.?

    Stage tricks aside, the Ballet West performance of The Nutcracker has historical value as well.

    ?Our Nutcracker was the first full-length Nutcracker staged in America,? Dallas said. ?Ours was the first, and we?re still here, and we?re still trying to keep it authentic.?

    Ballet West founder William Christensen was the original choreographer of The Nutcracker, which was performed in Utah for the first time Dec. 27, 1955 at Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus.

    ?I think it is fun to say I was there for the 50th anniversary ? it?s a mark in history really,? said Peter Christie, director of the academy at Ballet West.

    Although this year is a special year for The Nutcracker, for many families the production has been a treasured holiday tradition for many years. Christie said The Nutcracker often draws a four-generation audience, with ages ranging from grandparents to great-grandchildren.

    ?The Nutcracker has a high entertainment factor for a ballet. Your focus of attention is constantly changing, and this gives you a little taste of different things,? Christie said. ?For our MTV generation who constantly are wanting to be stimulated by something new, and also for little kids, it will hold their attention.?

    The Ballet West performance has more than just entertainment value though, Christie said.

    ?Ballet West is such an established professional company with such high standards in technique and artistic quality,? Christie said. ?Ballet West audiences are seeing fine, world-class artistry.?

    Tickets to The Nutcracker can be purchased at ArtTix by calling 355-ARTS (2787), at www.arttix.org, or at the Capitol Theatre ticket office at 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City. Ticket prices range from $17-$65.

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