News

Nutcracker Dreaming: 4 Productions to Experience This Season

Ballet West in Waltz of the Flowers. Photo by Luke Isley, courtesy of Ballet West

Check out these old (and new) productions of ballet's beloved holiday classic.


Longest running

As the longest running production in the U.S., Ballet West preserves Willam Christensen's 1944 choreography. In 2017, the company ambitiously renovated the production elements with a $3 million upgrade. All costumes (nearly 300) were updated, as well as 24 drop sets. There are new special effects, including the sleigh flying off at the end of the production (Mr. C's dream all along). December 1–29 (Salt Lake City)

The artists of Ballet West. Photo by Beau Pearson, courtesy of Ballet West

Brand-new

Atlanta Ballet has a new Nutcracker production with a stellar production team, the first in more than 20 years. Yuri Possokhov's choreography comes to the stage with set designs by Tony Award nominee Tom Pye. Innovative projection design is the work of Tony Award winner Finn Ross, and the design team is complete with Sandra Woodall's stunning costumes and David Finn's elegant lighting. December 8–24 (Atlanta)

Yuri Possokhov in Atlanta Ballet Nutcracker rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Atlanta Ballet

Conservatory-produced

University of North Carolina School of the Arts' production brings together high school and college students and three of the schools on campus. The Schools of Dance, Music, and Design & Production work together for a full staging with live orchestra, sets, lighting and special effects. UNCSA also annually invites two professionals from varying companies to perform with the cast. December 7–16 (Winston-Salem)

Mother Ginger, as part of the UNCSA production. Photo by Peter Mueller, courtesy of UNCSA

Female-choreographed

Premiered in 2011, Cincinnati Ballet's production is one of the few in the country created by a female choreographer. Victoria Morgan's Nutcracker includes a cast of 146 dancers: the company, second company, professional training division, children and parents. December 13–24 (Cincinnati)

Melissa Gelfin and Cervilio Amador, Principal Dancers at Cincinnati Ballet. Photo by Peter Mueller, courtesy of Cincinnati Ballet

Teachers Trending
Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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Dancer Diary
Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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