This year, ‘The Nutcracker’ offers new treats, twists SanTan Sun News

This year, ‘The Nutcracker’ offers new treats, twists

November 22nd, 2017 | by SanTan Sun News
This year, ‘The Nutcracker’ offers new treats, twists
Arts
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By COLLEEN SPARKS, Staff

Audiences can expect to see new choreography and other unexpected magic when they watch Ballet Etudes perform its 31st annual production of “The Nutcracker” this month and next in Chandler.

About 100 dancers under age 18, joined by about 12 to 15 adults playing the Sugar Plum Fairy, parents of children and other more mature roles, will hit the stage in the classic holiday ballet Nov. 24-26 and Dec. 1-3 at Chandler Center for the Arts. They will dance the magical tale at Mesa Arts Center Dec. 8-17.

The colorful Christmas ballet adopted from the story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by author E.T.A. Hoffmann, tells the tale of Clara, a girl who receives a nutcracker from her godfather, a wizardly toymaker, and the toy comes to life.

After a battle between the toys and an Army of mice, Clara and the nutcracker, who transforms into a prince, travel to the Land of Snow and the Land of Sweets, where they encounter waltzing flowers, dancing chocolate and other types of candy and other treats.

At least five of the dancers in Ballet Etudes’ production of “The Nutcracker” live in Chandler, and they are all “very talented and very hardworking,” said Kellan Meko, resident choreographer and marketing manager for Ballet Etudes.

Ballet Etudes is a pre-professional youth ballet company in Gilbert in existence as a nonprofit since 1987. Meko said one of the goals of her mother, Ballet Etudes artistic director Sharon Seder Meko, is to “give the audience something new, whether it’s a new costume or a new set” every year.

This year the Nutcracker costume is new, as well as the Dew Drop Fairy costume for the Waltz of the Flowers soloist, Kellan said.

New snow machines will allow snow to fall continuously in a snow scene of “The Nutcracker,” she added.

Dancers will perform new choreography Kellan created for the court scene and new choreography made by choreographer Astrit Zejnati for Spanish Hot Chocolate. Zejnati had danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet and Ballet Arizona.

Another twist is while the Spanish dance is normally performed by one male and one female dancer, this season two female dancers will do the honors.

“It’s kind of a little battle between the two, more dramatic,” Kellan said.

The audience will also see a slightly different ending to the holiday ballet this year.

“I think everyone will enjoy the changes that we made,” Kellan said. “A lot of people who go see ‘The Nutcracker’ with their families now tend to have gone and seen it as a child with their families. So much music in the ballet is easily recognizable. Even if you’re not a regular theater-goer, it’s a fun ballet. There’s really something for everyone. It’s an uplifting ballet.”

“The Nutcracker” auditions were open to anyone, but dancers who already are part of Ballet Etudes company are guaranteed a role in that ballet, as well as “Cinderella” in the spring.

Company members still must audition so they are placed in the appropriate roles. Young children to adults can take dance classes at BE School of Dance, which is the home of Ballet Etudes, 2401 East Baseline Road in Gilbert.

For tickets and more information about Ballet Etudes’ “The Nutcracker” at Chandler Center for the Arts: chandlercenter.org. To buy tickets for the company’s performances of “The Nutcracker” at Mesa Arts Center: mesaartscenter.com.

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