Utah Regional Ballet presents holiday favorite 'The Nutcracker'

2012-12-13T00:08:00Z 2012-12-13T09:00:35Z Utah Regional Ballet presents holiday favorite 'The Nutcracker'Amber Foote - Correspondent Daily Herald
December 13, 2012 12:08 am  • 

Tiptoe your family down to the Covey Center for the Arts and start a new holiday tradition this year as you experience Utah Regional Ballet's rendition of "The Nutcracker."

The ballet, which is typically staged at Christmastime, will run at the Covey Center from Saturday through Dec. 22. Now in its 25th season, Utah Regional Ballet's production of the Russian ballet is an already anticipated event and holiday must-see for many families.

"Everyone loves to be with family at Christmastime, and that's the tradition of 'The Nutcracker,' " said Jacqueline Colledge, founder and artistic director of Utah Regional Ballet (URB). "It's a family story of gift giving and goodwill toward people."

Colledge, who founded URB in 1980, trained under the direction of William F. Christensen, who founded Ballet West and is largely credited with bringing the full "Nutcracker" ballet to the United States. While Colledge said much of the choreography in URB's "Nutcracker" is unique, Christensen's influence is still felt throughout the ballet. "Even though the steps are different, I wanted to capture the charm and the elegance that he had in his original production," she said.

"The Nutcracker" storyline is based off of E.T.A Hoffman's "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" and is carried along by a score from Tchaikovsky. The story takes place on Christmas Eve, as young Clara is presented with a wooden nutcracker from her godfather. At the strike of midnight, the nutcracker grows to life-size and then transforms into a prince. Together Clara and the prince travel to the magical Land of Sweets ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy. The ballet is overflowing with tin soldiers, an army of mice and an array of dancing sweets, many portrayed by nearly 300 children (representing three casts) from the community.

"It's a rare opportunity for these children to be close to professional dancers," said Colledge. "To see their faces and how inspired they get, that's the magic of 'The Nutcracker.' And because of the charm of the little kids and the fact that the dancers are enjoying so much what they're doing, the audience also feels that magic."

Rachelle Brooks, a senior at Utah Valley University and dancer with URB, is one of two dancers cast as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and echoed the sentiment. "It's definitely enjoyable to perform and express what I love to do," she said.

Brooks has been in approximately 16 productions of "The Nutcracker" and noted that the ballet has also become a yearly holiday event for her and her family. "A lot of people really cherish it because it becomes a tradition with families. It's good for the families to come support it. Good ballet isn't always something that the community recognizes, but 'The Nutcracker' is one of the more recognized ballets in the community and it's good to get exposure to [ballet] in that way."

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