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Dance Review (San Diego): The Nutcracker at the Spreckels Theatre

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Christmas isn’t complete without a viewing of The Nutcracker, with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Along with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and It’s A Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart, The Nutcracker is considered a classic Christmas festivity.

A Christmas Carol deals with the disparity between rich and poor and is a plea to remember the less fortunate. It’s A Wonderful Life teaches us to appreciate what we have and to realize there is magic in the world. The Nutcracker appeals to the child in all of us, as its heroine, Clara, goes on an adventure with the Nutcracker Prince and is exposed to beauty around the world and in the imagination. San Diego is lucky to have a first-rate ballet company and ballet school called City Ballet of San Diego.

The City Ballet of San Diego has been presenting The Nutcracker for thirteen years. The choreography is by Elizabeth Rowe Wistrich. She and her husband come from The Boston Conservatory of Music, The Netherlands Dance Theater, and the world-renowned Stuttgart Ballet, but they have settled in San Diego and formed their company and ballet school. This sumptuous production of The Nutcracker is based on the original choreography of Lev Ivanov, as well as the choreography of Vassily Vainonen, Rudolf Nureyev, and William Christiansen. The result is a production that never stops moving adn provides many chances for students from the Ballet School to participate.

Ariana Samuelsson's Clara is beautifully danced. Kevin Eagle is Herr Drosselmeyer, Janica Smith is the Sugar Plum Fairy, and the very talented Danielle Valdez is Chinese. Ivan Bielik is the Nutcracker Prince, and the very tall Tara Formanek is Rose. The company as a whole is quite professional. My only caveat is that they don’t always dance together.

The production is gorgeous. David Heuvel has designed costumes that glow under the light. The sets are lovely and create just the right elegant atmosphere. The young orchestra is directed by John Nettles. From the moment I entered the lobby, where a chamber group of young persons was playing, to the final curtain call accompanied by cheers from an appreciative audience, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.


The Nutcracker was performed by the City Ballet Of San Diego at the newly redecorated Spreckels Theatre for two weekends, Dec. 5 to Dec. 14.

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