Is it really Christmas without “The Nutcracker?” After all, it’s one of the biggest staples of the holiday season. From the music to the story, “The Nutcracker” is a classic that always puts people into the holiday mood. Here in Utah, we are lucky to be home to one of the biggest premiere ballet companies in America. Ballet West is back with the “The Nutcracker” to perform Tchaikovsky’s brilliant holiday production.
Almost everyone knows of the Nutcracker’s familiar twinkling music, but not as many know about the story behind it. Written by E.T.A Hoffmann, the classical ballet follows a little German girl named Clara at a Christmas party. Her uncle, Herr Drosselmeyer, gives her a nutcracker as a gift. Clara falls asleep later in the night and dreams of a wonderland filled with winter fun and a prince that has to fight an evil mouse king.
Ballet West’s take on this famous production is a nod towards the company’s prestige. After a 3 million dollar renovation, the production sparkles with 24 sets, 200 props, 180 costumes and a whole new realm of special effects. The artistic director at Ballet West, Adam Sklute, said, “Envisioning the changes, my goal was to honor and respect Mr. C’s [the founder of Ballet West, William Christensen] own version while creating a fresh look to this evergreen classic. I look at it as if we are reframing a beloved piece of art or photograph.”
It’s easy to put on a production of a classic piece and not change anything about it. To try something new and put a unique spin on a show while still retaining all the elements which make the piece of art an classic is a much more difficult feat. Ballet West manages to do it year after year. They have put on the longest standing production of “The Nutcracker” in the nation. In a review of last year’s vamped up production in the Deseret News, Heather Hayes commented on how the changes don’t diminish the vintage state of the classic: “If you’re worried that Ballet West’s re-imagined “Nutcracker” has lost its quintessential quaintness — don’t be. It’s still as magical, charming and nostalgic as before — just with a fresh coat of paint and a new bit of polish.”
There is a downside to all of the holiday joy. Unfortunately, Ballet West does not offer discounted student tickets for performances of “The Nutcracker.” It’s a pricey ask from college students for a decent ticket, but if you or anyone you know loves ballet, then this can be a good gift.
You can watch Ballet West’s production of “The Nutcracker” this holiday season on any date from Dec. 14-29 in Salt Lake City at the Capitol Theatre. Ticket prices vary in price, ranging from $20-$88 at www.balletwest.org or over the phone at 801-869-6900. The performance schedule depends on the day of performance.