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The Nutcracker

Since the mid-1940s, this holiday treat has become a staple of American ballet companies, and for good reason, as we see in the Colorado Ballet's current production where, despite the retirement of its leading principal dancers, Maria Mosina and Alexei Tyukov, the depth of the company continues to be evident.

Clara and the Nutcracker Prince say good-bye to the Land of Snow
Clara and the Nutcracker Prince
say good-bye to the Land of Snow
Photo: Mike Watson
On opening night, Emily Speed (Clara) and Ariel Breitman (Nutcracker Prince) take the coming-of-age dream sequence to a new level, with their warm chemistry and expressive pas de deux. From the moment that the Nutcracker Prince transforms from a soldier doll into a young man, Speed's ready smile and willowy body language coupled with Breitman's expressions of captivation for her, as well as his smooth lifts, make this an exemplary pairing.

Ariel Breitman as the Nutcracker Prince and Emily Speed as Clara
Ariel Breitman as the Nutcracker Prince
and Emily Speed as Clara
Photo: Mike Watson
After Clara's godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer (the inimitable Gregory K. Gonzalez, master mime), magically resurrects the Prince from his lethal battle with the Mouse-King—just as, in real life, he repaired the Nutcracker from its encounter with Clara's brother, Fritz—the couple is transported from the Land of Toys to the Land of Snow, where, in a wondrous sequence of choreography and staging, they dance in celebration as the snowflakes come alive, precipitating a delightful and steadily intensifying snowfall, culminating in Clara and the Prince's departure in a flying sleigh, to the Land of Sweets.

Sharon Wehner as the Sugarplum Fairy and Yosvani Ramos as her Cavalier
Sharon Wehner as the Sugarplum Fairy
and Yosvani Ramos as her Cavalier
Photo: Mike Watson
There, they are greeted by the Sugarplum Fairy (Sharon Wehner) and her Cavalier (Yosvani Ramos), who celebrate Clara and the Prince with a host of sweet delicacies (divertissements): Spanish Chocolate—quick steps to snappy castanets and a flourish of skirts; Arabian Coffee—seductive pas de deux amidst exotic atmospherics; Chinese Tea—comedic antics with a playful dragon; Danish Marzipan—a merry flautist gets a comeuppance from two coquettes; Russian Candy Canes—thrilling, exuberant athleticism and stamina; and, Mother Ginger and her children (Polichinelles)—a happy showcase for the Colorado Ballet Academy and hilarious dance moves from the colossal, matriarchic red-head.

Asuka Sasaki as Dew Drop
Asuka Sasaki as Dew Drop
Photo: Mike Watson
After indulging in these treats, Clara and the Nutcracker Prince respond with a pleasing pas de deux, followed by a beautiful solo by the lithe and fluid Asuka Sasaki as Dew Drop, surrounded by the colorful prancing of the Flowers. Finally, the Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier return with a technically perfect classic pas de deux from Wehner and Ramos.

Jose Varona's costumes (with additions by the Colorado Ballet Wardrobe Department) and sets, originally designed for the San Francisco Ballet, are grand! Adam Flatt and the Colorado Ballet Orchestra thrill us with a sublime rendition of Tchaikovsky's famous score.

The Colorado Ballet's presentation of The Nutcracker runs through December 24th. For tickets: http://tickets.coloradoballet.org.

Bob Bows



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