The Nutcracker Returned

The 14th of December, William Christensen’s The Nutcracker returned to Salt Lake City after a weeklong engagement at the Kennedy Opera Center in Washington, D.C. There were glowing reviews of Ballet West’s performance of this historic classic in the nation’s capital. Broadway world gushed: “Ballet West’s production of The Nutcracker is pure holiday joy for the whole family. The fact that this version carries historical significance makes the audience all the luckier.”

And no less than the Washington Post’s Dance critic wrote: “Is it just me, or does optimism feel like a coveted luxury item this year? More difficult to come by than a Diorissimo bag, more spiritually sustaining than a Godiva chocolate gift tower. And yet, here comes “The Nutcracker,” an especially pretty one, performed by Salt Lake City’s Ballet West, and it’s all sunlight and warmth. Even though it begins with snow.”

I attended the performance of The Nutcracker on Dec. 14. There was a buzz of excitement among the attendees of opening night of The Nutcracker. The second year around for the new stage sets, costumes and additions to the choreography that were a welcome addition to the historical legacy that was left by “Mr. C.” still seemed new and exciting. There are some fun “magical” additions that delighted all especially the row of darling little girls in front of us. It was so sweet to hear their comments. It was like seeing the performance with whole new set of eyes; it made me very excited to bring my granddaughter when she is old enough to see this beautiful Holiday tradition.

The dancers were outstanding as always, however the highlights for me were Emily Adams and Adrian Fry as the Snow Queen and King there were spectacular lifts and the music is extremely fast for a waltz and the artists of Ballet West are moving quickly through the whole number. I have always loved this part of the ballet. So beautiful and helps me remember that winter does have its beauty too.

The Spanish dancers were exceptional this year; Hadriel Diniz was a standout to me along with Katie Critchlow and Chelsea Keefer. Katlyn Addison was mysterious and beautiful as the Arabian Dancer. Of course the Russian Dance is a crowd pleaser always with the powerful and athletic moves of the dance.

With Christopher Sellars as the lead dancer. Mother Buffoon is always a delight with her little dancers under her huge hooped skirt.  I was a bit disappointed that Beau Pearson didn’t perform the roll of Mother Buffoon as the program stated, as he is so funny and plays the part so well, but Trevor Naumann did a good job and got several laughs and giggles along with his little bee dancers.

The outstanding point in the night was the Grand Pas de Deux with Beckanne Sisk and Chase O’Connell as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Beckanne dances the difficult choreography with lightness, ease and charm. Chase is a careful and watchful partner to Beckanne and has his great moments in the male dancer’s solo areas in the Pas de Deux. The audience was spellbound. The Ballet West Orchestra conducted by Jared Oaks really does a wonderful job with the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and I listen to other versions of this music during the season it really doesn’t compare to what is performed with the Ballet West Company.

The evening ended with many curtain calls, the audience appreciated the festive production. Ballet West performed The Nutcracker from Dec. 14-29 and delighted many in attendance through these two weeks at the Capitol Theatre.

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