THIS WEEK'S TOP BALLET NEWS
● San Francisco Ballet Performs Helgi Tomasson’s Nutcracker
● The Sarasota Ballet Presents Expressions
● Boston Ballet Presents Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker
● American Contemporary Ballet’s Unexpected Nutcracker
● The Joffrey Ballet Presents Christopher Wheeldon’s Nutcracker
San Francisco Ballet Performs Helgi Tomasson’s Nutcracker
San Francisco Ballet School students are particularly excited about this year’s production as the full cast of children’s roles returns to the War Memorial Opera House after last year’s restricted run. Over the thirty-three performance run, which begins on December 8, 110 SF Ballet School dancers will join the company for Helgi Tomasson’s version of The Nutcracker, a Bay Area tradition for the past eighteen years.
“This is a most joyous return to the stage for our students, many of whom have missed their favorite holiday tradition over the past three years,” says SF Ballet School Director Patrick Armand. “Nutcracker offers an invaluable opportunity to prepare a dancer for their career, to instill professional values and rigor in a supportive and fun environment – we are thrilled to be back.”
New Principal Dancers Nikisha Fogo and Isaac Hernández, and Soloist Katherine Barkman dance in lead roles such as the Sugarplum Fairy, The Nutcracker Prince, and King and Queen of the Snow in this production set during the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
Also, returning to San Francisco Ballet studios after a three year hiatus due to the pandemic, are thematic workshops: The Nutcracker Sensory-Friendly Dance Workshop in partnership with Autism Fun Bay Area and College of Adaptive Arts and Nutcracker Let’s Dance Family Workshops for an interactive holiday experience.
The Sarasota Ballet Presents Expressions
Program 2 of The Sarasota Ballet season kicks off on November 18 at the Sarasota Opera House. Expressions features three ballets by two of the art’s most prominent figures: Sir Frederick Ashton and Sir Kenneth MacMillan.
MacMillan’s Danses Concertantes serves as a tribute to the choreographer following the 30th anniversary of his passing, while Ashton’s poignant Dante Sonata depicts the futility of conflict conceived at the beginning of the Second World War. Closing with a complete thematic inversion, Ashton’s Rhapsody dazzles with exquisite detail and virtuoso technique.
Artistic Director Iain Webb said, “Having worked with both Sir Fred and Kenneth, it is with great pride that we honor these two legendary Choreographers. The foundation of which our Company is built upon is keeping the history of ballet alive and relevant, and to have Company Premieres of both Danses Concertantes and Dante Sonata, as well as the return of Rhapsody is truly inspiring.”
The Sarasota Orchestra will accompany this performance, conducted by Principal Guest Conductor of The Royal Ballet Barry Wordsworth, and with Guest Pianists Cameron Grant and Vedrana Subotic.
Boston Ballet Presents Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker
From November 25 through December 31, audience members at the Citizens Bank Opera House will enjoy the annual holiday tradition of seeing Boston Ballet‘s The Nutcracker with choreography by its Artistic Director Mikko Missinen. This version is based on the libretto by Alexandre Dumas père titled The Tale of the Nutcracker, which is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
“The Nutcracker is 128 years old and yet remains a staple of classical ballet for companies around the world and an enduring, timeless holiday tradition that brings friends an families together. Our wonderful Boston Ballet Orchestra skillfully conveys the magic of Tchaikovsky’s glorious score, and Robert Perdziola’s beautiful sets and costumes elevates the entire experience,” said Nissinen. “This year, we are thrilled to welcome back beloved characters, from the littlest lamb to the largest Mother Ginger. I can’t wait for new and returning audiences to be transported by this heartwarming story and experience the talent of our world-class Company and Boston Ballet School students.”
This grand production, which will run for 41 performances, features not only the full company but Boston Ballet II dancers and Boston Ballet School students. It is often a highlight of the season where many dancers will debut in new roles.
American Contemporary Ballet’s Unexpected Nutcracker
Next month, Los Angeles audiences will be set to witness an immersive, magical one-hour staging of The Nutcracker Suite. Choreographed by American Contemporary Ballet’s Artistic Director, Lincoln Jones, this version of The Nutcracker still honors the traditional Tchaikovsky score while bringing innovation to the stage. The ballet is set in a skyscraper with visual motifs drawn from candy wrappers and anime, and – of course – with lots of snow.
“There is no reason to watch the dream of The Nutcracker secondhand, at a remove, when you can be the one to actually experience it,” says Jones. “It’s like going inside the music, inside the imagination itself.”
The Joffrey Ballet Presents Christopher Wheeldon’s Nutcracker
Fittingly set in the 1893 Chicago’s World Fair, Christopher Wheeldon’s version of the holiday classic will be performed by Joffrey Ballet at the city’s Lyric Opera House accompanied by Scott Speck’s led Lyric Opera Orchestra. The 25 performance run which begins on December 3 boasts choreography, sets, costumes, librettists, lighting, projection, and puppeteering by an award winning team.
This Nutcracker opens as young Marie and her mother, a sculptress creating the Fair’s iconic Statue of the Republic, host a festive Christmas Eve celebration. Magic is on the horizon for young Marie and the Nutcracker Prince, thanks to a visit from the charming but mysterious Great Impresario. At the stroke of midnight on a snowy Christmas Eve, when the lines between fantasy and reality blur together, Marie sets out on an unforgettable journey through Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, a marvel of sights, sounds, and enchantment.
Photo Credits: 1) Nikisha Fogo in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson 2) Marijana Dominis and Ricardo Rhodes in Danses Concertantes by Sir Kenneth MacMillan | Dominique Jenkins, Daniel Pratt, Anna Pellegrino, Richard House, and Lauren Ostrander in Dante Sonata by Sir Frederick Ashton | Yuki Nonaka and Macarena Gimenez in Sir Frederick Ashton’s Rhapsody. Photos by Frank Atura; 3) Lia Cirio and Patrick Yocum in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker; photo by Liza Voll; courtesy of Boston Ballet; 4) American Contemporary Ballet Dance in Nutcracker Suite. Photo by Victor Demarchelier; 5) Yumi Kanazawa and Hyuma Kiyosawa in The Nutcracker. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.