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The Nutcracker

Dana Benton as Clara and Gregory K. Gonzales as Herr Drosselmeyer
Dana Benton as Clara
and Gregory K. Gonzales as Herr Drosselmeyer
Photo: Terry Shapiro
This magical ballet, based on a story written by E.T.A. Hoffman in 1816 and adapted by Alexandre Dumas père, continues to dazzle children and adults of all ages, as this year's production by the Colorado Ballet once again attests. Oohs and aahs as well as laughter from the Sugarplums (2nd and 3rd grade daughters or granddaughters of patrons) accompanied all the artistic and comical moments, as surely as applause from aficionados followed them.

Shelby Dyer and Luis Valdes in the Arabian
Shelby Dyer and Luis Valdes
in the Arabian
Photo: Terry Shapiro
Just as the special treats of the season bring joy to the palette, so, too, do their choreographed representations: the flair of the Spanish Chocolate, the erotic Arabian Coffee, the slapstick Chinese Tea, the coquettish Danish Marzipan, the flashy Russian Candy Canes, the cute Polichinelles with their zany Mother Ginger.

As spectacle, this holiday classic is hard to top, with life-size windup dolls brought to life by Drosselmeyer, an epic battle between the troops of the Nutcracker Prince and the Rat King, a stunning snowfall stirred by sixteen snowflakes, a flying carriage that whisks away Clara and the Nutcracker Prince to The Land of Sweets, plus the aforementioned divertissements, performed before the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, and, of course, the famous pas de deux of this pair.

Artists o fthe Colorado Ballet in Snow
Artists of the Colorado Ballet in Snow
Photo: Terry Shapiro
Noted designer Jose Varona's fanciful costumes and sets (purchased a few years back from the San Francisco ballet) are always a delight; and the staging, by Lorita Travaglia and Sandra Brown, is both grand and finely tuned, with excellent acting topping off the company's depth of classical talent. Adam Flatt leads the Ballet Orchestra through a delightful rendition of Tchaikovsky's beloved score.

Chandra Kuykendall as the Sugar Plum Fairy
Chandra Kuykendall
as the Sugar Plum Fairy
Photo: Terry Shapiro
The Nutcracker retains its place among the rituals of the season for many reasons, including its magnificent score and marvelous choreography (the original choreographer, the legendary Marius Petipa, gave very detailed instructions to Tchaikovsky for the composition of each number, down to the tempo and number of bars, which did not sit well with the composer, but the results are inarguably great), but above all it is the romantic, humorous, and adventurous story that wins us over.

The Colorado Ballet's The Nutcracker runs through December 24th, including weekday and afternoon performances. 303-837-8888 or www.coloradoballet.com.

Bob Bows

 

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