"The Nutcracker" Gets a Makeover 1

If you grew up in Boulder, you grew up with the knowledge that the Boulder Ballet’s annual Nutcracker performance was not to be missed. As a dancer, I always admired the professionalism, magnitude and grace of their Christmas-time performance, and noticed that non-dancers appreciated this annual treat just as much, or more, than I did.  Boulder Ballet is a common name in dancer and non-dancer households alike and it’s no wonder there’s such a buzz surrounding their fresh interpretation of The Nutcracker for 2015. Sitting down with the Marketing Manager Erin Tunbridge and Executive Director Wrenn Combs to grasp the significance of this years’ performance was nothing short of a dream come true for the young dancer still inside me.

What is the most exciting/most different aspect of the “new” Nutcracker?

“When we started the meetings to redesign the sets more than one and a half years ago, the realization struck us how all-encompassing ‘NEW’ would be. These sets are breathtaking and so different—patrons will be transported to a magical experience from beginning to end. Strikingly different will be the choreography. Lance Hardin, the new associate artistic director, said, “The opportunity to set new choreography allows me to engage with many dancers for the first time, which offers exciting creative memories.” Live music is provided by the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra who will, for the first time, be under the baton of Principal Guest Conductor Gary Lewis.”

Why was the decision made to completely make over the classic performance?

This production is not a complete makeover of the classic performance. It’s our interpretation of this classic ballet, with new sets, new choreography, new costumes, new dancers and even new characters all intertwined within the tradition and familiar music of Tchaikovsky for the beloved Nutcracker.”

What can the audience expect from the set this year?

“The new sets are so different from the sets/scenery we’ve been using for the last 20 years. The set designer, Susan Crabtree, said in our initial meeting, ‘I am not your candy cane and cupcake set designer for Land of the Sweets. I want to design the unexpected for those that think they have seen everything when it comes to The Nutcracker.’ Many hours have been spent thinking through how to best bring to life the artistic vision of then Co-Artistic Directors Ana Claire and Peter Davison.”

What can the audience expect from the new choreography this year?

“Ana Claire (Artistic Director) and Lance Hardin (Associate Artistic Director), along with Amy Earnest (Assistant School Director) are the choreographers this year. Mr. Hardin and Ms. Earnest are new to Boulder Ballet and have brought a fresh approach to the possibilities. The role of Drosselmeyer in our production is much larger and magical than in most, and Peter Davison will be reprising the role (with a few new twists) of the character he played for many years. Our production is quite theatrical; filled with new takes on traditional characters and whimsical journeys into the heart of this holiday classic.”

Could you explain the gravity of this project for anyone that has not ever seen The Nutcracker?

“Regardless of whether you’ve seen The Nutcracker before, the undertaking of creating new sets is far more involved than one would think. This is probably why very few ballet companies have sets designed specifically for their productions. The new sets will be part of our history, and a gift to the community, for the next 20 years. Consideration was given to the unique configuration of the stage at Macky Auditorium and how the artistic vision could marry with the size and technical restrictions of the historic venue. The Nutcracker is not a simple production; there are six different scenes that must be accommodated, each requiring a change in the set.”

The Boulder Ballet’s The Nutcracker has been a long-standing tradition for the Boulder community, where volunteers feel grateful to be a part of it, sponsors are honored to donate to it, and young dancers dream of their opportunity to perform in the holiday classic. The sense of community that the performance brings to the Boulder and Boulder County areas cannot be measured, but needs to be experienced. For the first time, Boulder Ballet is giving back to its sponsors by inviting them to watch the full dress rehearsal where the breathtaking new look will be unveiled for the first time.  Boulder Ballet recognizes the importance of celebrating the groups and individuals who helped make these new sets possible and is looking forward to showing its gratitude through the experience of the intimate and raw dress rehearsal.

Everyone associated with Boulder Ballet feels the anticipation and buildup of excitement that comes with such a beloved tradition and invites you to join in the excitement of beginning the holiday season with Boulder Ballet’s new interpretation of The Nutcracker.

Dates at Macky Auditorium (on the CU campus) with the Boulder Philharmonic include November 27, 28 & 29. Please visit BoulderBallet.org for 
ticket information.

Also at Vance Brand Auditorium with the Longmont Symphony on December 5 & 6. Tickets available through the Longmont Symphony, 303.772.5796.