This archived article was written by: Angela Oliver
This year’s production of The Nutcracker will mark the 20th anniversary for Ballet Repertory’s production under the artistic director, Carolyn Gwyther. It opens November 17 and 19 with the Grinch on November 18 and 21 in the Geary Theatre.
The first performance of The Nutcracker was performed in St. Petersburg Russia on December 17, 1892. Choreographed by Marius Patipa and Lev Ivonov and put to music written by Pyotr Tchaik-ovsky. The story of The Nutcracker comes from E.T.A. Hoffman’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” The San Francisco Ballet Company was the first to perform the Nutcracker in the United States in 1944. The idea for the San Francisco version of the ballet came from the memories of George Ballenge who performed it as a child in Russia.
The Nutcracker is a story about a girl named Clara who is given a nutcracker for Christmas from Heir Drosselmeyer, a family friend. Clara is sent to bed, and later sneaks downstairs to play with her nutcracker, she falls asleep and is awoken by a roomful of mice and a mouse king that tries to kidnap her. Clara frantically searches for her nutcracker, but it has disappeared. Suddenly the nutcracker appears in life size with a band of soldiers and defeats the mouse king in a sword battle.
CEU’s production of The Nutcracker “contains original choreography from San Francisco Ballet Company’s first production in the United States,” Gwyther said. She enjoys directing this performance each season because of the tradition of the performance and the dancers are a mix of the community and dance department.
Some of the community in the production include Dr. George Uhlig, Dr. Greg Benson, Dr. Jeff Hansen, Dr. Joseph Chi-meno, Chad Mortenson and Ruth Jernigan.
A comedic version of The Grinch will be shown through dance and includes The Night After Christmas, Christmas Carol Pas De Deux and a Christmas ballroom. The production will move to Helper in the Rio Theatre on Nov. 28-29 to perform as part of Helper’s Christmas Festival. The Grinch is always fun to perform because “there’s colorful costumes, crazy dances and wonderful dancing,” Gwyther says.
Aria Hansen and Rachel Jenson are assistant directors.Pam and Don Adams, are acting coach and costumes.