Something old, something new: The Nutcracker
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet may be known for its cutting-edge choreography, but its Nutcracker is old school — with a few contemporary twists. Anna Gerberich — who will be alternating in the role of Sugarplum Fairy with Jenelle Figgins — joined ASFB after serving a number of years as principal dancer with the Charlotte Ballet in North Carolina and, most recently, as a member of the Joffrey Ballet company in Chicago. When she performs the part in Santa Fe, it will be exactly the same as it was in Chicago, because both companies have based it on the choreography created by Marius Petipa for the 1892 premiere of the ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Other traditional elements in the AFSB Nutcracker include the score by Tchaikovsky and the story — of a little girl’s awakening to womanhood after a Christmas party turns into a dream and a toy nutcracker morphs into a handsome prince. In addition to the elaborate sets and costumes, a cast of nine additional ballerinas, a half-dozen character dancers — including flamenco, Russian, Chinese, and circus artists — and the giddy presence of 150 young dancers drawn from the company’s ballet school in Santa Fe turn the production into a genuine extravaganza. Joining the cast this year is a Santa Fe favorite, flamenco dancer La Emi, as well as Hsin-Ping Chang, who was recently lead dancer in a Metropolitan Opera production of Madame Butterfly.
The Nutcracker takes to the Lensic Performing Arts Center stage (211 W. San Francisco St.) at 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17, and at 1 and 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 18. Tickets ($36-$94) are available by visiting www.ticketssantafe.org or calling 505-988-1234.
— Michael Wade Simpson